Sonia urged to back demand for separate Telangana

HYDERABAD, AUG. 11. A group of Congress MLAs have urged the party president, Ms. Sonia Gandhi, to pledge the party's support to the cause of statehood for Telangana.

They met Ms. Sonia Gandhi separately at Lake View Guest House, where she stayed during her visit to the city on Friday, and submitted a memorandum signed by 40 MLAs from the region.

Earlier, other senior party leaders from the region also met her and pleaded that she take up the cause of Telangana. She was however non-committal on the demand, promising that it would be discussed in the party fora.

On arrival at the airport this morning to address the annual NSUI training camp here, she was received, among others, by the APCC president, Mr.M. Satyanarayana Rao, the leader of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP), Dr.Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, the CWC member, Mr.K. Vijayabhaskara Reddy, former Chief Ministers Mr.N. Janardhan Reddy and Mr.N. Bhaskara Rao, the former Union Minister, Mr.P. Shiv Shankar, the former PCC president, Mr.V. Hanumantha Rao, and the former CLP leader, Mr.P. Janardhan Reddy.

The CLP delegation, led by Dr. Rajasekhara Reddy, had a separate meeting with Ms. Sonia Gandhi during which she had reportedly clarified that the party was not in favour of reviewing the five- tier system of Panchayat Raj. She had explained to the MLAs that the party had taken a decision in favour of a uniform set-up in all States and was therefore not in a position to consider the demand of A.P. leaders for restoration of the three-tier system.

At the guest house she met different groups like professionals, doctors, lawyers and minorities.

Overzealous Special Protection Group (SPG) personnel rendered the job of press photographers and scribes, covering Ms. Gandhi's visit to the city, difficult, often entering into heated arguments with them. A group of lensmen, who sought to enter the guest house to take picture of Ms. Gandhi's meetings with different groups, were pushed around. Some Congress leaders tried to intervene but the securitymen did not listen to them.

The scribes were asked to wait outside the gates of the guest house which was virtually sealed off by the police. Even at the scheduled press meet at 3.30 p.m., the SPG men would not let in media personnel easily. They were seen directing the lensmen as to where to stand and what to shoot. The AICC general secretary, Mr. Motilal Vora, was tense before the entry of Ms. Sonia Gandhi into the press conference hall. ``It is only an informal chat. Please don't ask her any questions,'' he went on pleading, much to the amusement of mediapersons. But Ms. Gandhi was cool and composed as she fielded a good number of questions.

The AICC president, Ms. Sonia Gandhi, receiving a memento from the NSUI State president, Mr. P. Prabhakar, in Hyderabad on Friday.

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