Facing the heat over statehood demand, YSR Congress president Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy on Saturday said his outfit “respects the sentiment” of Telangana people and demanded that the Centre immediately take a “right decision” on the contentious issue.

“We respect the sentiments of Telangana people but we are neither in a position to grant statehood or block it.

“It is for the central government to take a right decision that will not harm the interests of the people of different regions (of Andhra Pradesh),” Mr. Jagan said, delivering the valedictory address at the two-day plenary of his new party at Rajiv Knowledge Valley this afternoon.

By spelling out his stand, though in a rather ambiguous manner, Mr. Jagan tried to buy peace with the pro-Telangana forces as he faced a lot of antagonism in the region ever since he held aloft a placard in support of a unified state in Lok Sabha when he was a Congress MP in 2010.

He was prevented from conducting his ‘Odarpu yatra’ in Warangal district, the hotbed of Telangana agitation, till he came out with a clear view on the statehood demand.

The MP—elect lashed out at the central government for “playing with the lives of people of Andhra Pradesh” for many years now on the vexatious statehood issue.

“AP is in total chaos... people are ending lives...properties are getting damaged. The Government is solely responsible for this. It should stop playing this game at once and take a right decision that does not harm the interests of people of different regions and lead to further acrimony,” Mr. Jagan demanded.

By giving a veiled indication that he might support bifurcation of the state if the situation demanded, Mr. Jagan is looking for a window of opportunity to step into the region and possibly widen his base.

In fact, political leaders of various hues in the region had been waiting for Mr. Jagan to clear his stance on the Telangana issue.

Terming the Telangana issue a “very sensitive and complex” one, Mr. Jagan accused the Congress and the Telugu Desam Party of “flip-flops” on it.

“On December 9, 2009, Sonia Gandhi announced a rather favourable stand on Telangana but TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu took a U turn the very next day despite promising in his party’s election manifesto to work for creation of a separate state.

“Now, everybody wants to know our stand on this issue but we are not in a position to influence anybody on this. In fact, nobody will invite us to express our view but as a responsible party we have to spell out our stand,” the YSR Congress chief said.

Though some leaders within his party suggested that they too constitute a committee to mull over the issue, he did not want to drag his feet, Mr. Jagan said.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Jagan faced the Telangana heat on the second day of his party’s plenary session even as the newly-formed outfit sought steer clear of the contentious issue by pushing the blame on to the ruling Congress for the current imbroglio.

Chaos reigned at the plenary as YSR Congress workers from Telangana and Andhra-Rayalaseema regions held aloft placards and raised slogans for and against the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh.

Party leaders had a tough time pacifying the slogan0shouting workers.

Those from Telangana demanded that Mr. Jagan immediately announce the YSR Congress’ stand on the separate state demand.

Congress MLA from Telangana region Konda Surekha blamed her party for the current impasse.

“When he was alive, one party blamed then Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy for blocking the formation of Telangana state. Now that YSR is no more, what is preventing Telangana state from becoming a reality,” she questioned, in an oblique reference to the separatist Telangana Rashtra Samiti.

Appealing to everyone to respect the sentiments of Telangana people, Ms. Surekha said the entire country was eagerly awaiting Jagan’s word on the statehood issue and concluded her speech with the ‘Jai Telangana’ slogan.

Another Congress MLA Adinarayana Reddy from Kadapa district maintained that they still supported a unified Andhra Pradesh but blamed his party for compounding the crisis over the statehood issue.

Former Congress MLA Bajireddi Govardhan accused the Congress of betraying the people of Telangana on the creation of a separate state.