J. Balaji

NEW DELHI: The Union Home Ministry has announced the initiation of a consultation process on the Telangana issue by convening a meeting here of eight recognised political parties of Andhra Pradesh for January 5 next.

Home Minister P. Chidambaram has sent the invitation to the Congress, the Telugu Desam Party, the Praja Rajyam Party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the Communist Party of India, the Telangana Rashtra Samiti and the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen.

A Ministry statement expressed “satisfaction” that the bandh called by the Telangana Joint Action Committee in some districts “passed off peacefully” on Wednesday.

The all-party meeting comes following a statement by Mr. Chidambaram on December 23 and the subsequent demand by parties seeking clarity and removal of ambiguity (on the formation of a separate State) in that statement.

On December 23, Mr. Chidambaram said “a large number of political parties are divided on the issue [Telangana]. There is need to hold wide-ranging consultations with all political parties and groups in the State. The Government of India will take steps to involve all concerned in the process.”

Rajya Sabha member and former Union Minister, T. Subbarami Reddy, who is for a united Andhra Pradesh, welcomed the Centre’s decision and hoped that an amicable solution could be found at the January 5 meeting.

Peddapalle MP G. Vivekanand, who is one of the 11 Lok Sabha members who quit their posts demanding announcement of a time frame by the Centre for forming a Telangana State, has welcomed the Centre’s decision.

Asked whether they would withdraw their resignation letters, he said: “We have to consult among ourselves. Then we will decide in a day or two.”

A senior Union Minister said a series of meetings had to be convened on the statehood issue and nothing could be achieved at a single meeting, as divergent voices could be heard on January 5.

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