Following is the text of the Home Minister P. Chidambaram’s opening remarks at the meeting.
“I am happy to welcome you to the second meeting of the eight recognised political parties of Andhra Pradesh. May I begin by wishing you and the people of Andhra Pradesh a very happy New Year and a very happy Sankaranthi.
You will recall that on January 5, 2010 we held our first meeting. That meeting was premised on the belief that parliamentary democracy – and the debate, discussion and consultation that are fostered in a parliamentary democracy – has the capacity to find solutions to all issues and problems. I had offered to institute a mechanism in order to hold wide ranging consultations on the issue of Telangana with all political parties and groups in Andhra Pradesh. After getting the benefit of your views, Government constituted a Committee under the chairmanship of Mr. Justice Srikrishna with very broad terms of reference. The Justice Srikrishna Committee submitted its report to the Government on December 30, 2010.
I am happy to share with each of the eight political parties a copy of the report (in two volumes). I note that some political parties invited to this meeting have chosen not to attend the meeting. I deeply regret the stand taken by them. It does scant justice to the valuable work done by the Justice Srikrishna Committee and the report submitted by the Committee. Nevertheless, I propose to send a copy of the report to the parties that have chosen to stay away. As I speak, the report is being uploaded on the website of the Ministry of Home Affairs and will be available to the public immediately.
I am also pleased to give you a summary of the report. The summary lists the ‘Optimum Solutions/Options’ suggested by the Justice Srikrishna Committee and their recommendations. I urge you to give your most careful, thoughtful and impartial consideration to the report and the recommendations. In particular, I would urge you to read the report and the recommendations with an open mind and be prepared to persuade, and to be persuaded by, people who hold another point of view. It is Government’s sincere hope that the report will generate an informed and mature debate.
Our discussions on January 5, 2010 showed the way forward: fact-finding, study, analysis, options and recommendations. It is Government’s hope that our discussions today will also show the further way forward. I am sure that, besides the political parties, the people of Andhra Pradesh – both individuals and groups – would also make valuable suggestions that will show the way forward.
You will note that I have repeatedly used the phrase ‘way forward’. I do so in order to reiterate Government’s intention to find a just, honourable and practicable solution that has the widest measure of support among all stakeholders.
Following the meeting on January 5, 2010, you were kind enough to join me in making an appeal to the people of Andhra Pradesh to maintain peace, harmony and law and order. That appeal had a salutary effect. It was heeded by the people of Andhra Pradesh and 2010 was a largely peaceful year. While the political parties consider the report and engage themselves in the search for a solution, it is necessary that peace, harmony and law and order should be maintained in Andhra Pradesh. I would request you to join me, at the end of this meeting, to make an appeal similar to the appeal that we made last year.
It is natural that you will require some time to read the report and hold consultations within your party. Hence, if all of you agree, I suggest that we meet again on a convenient date later this month.
I shall now request each political party present to give its views on how we should proceed further in the matter.”