ANDHRA PRADESH

CFT leaders' calculations go haywire?

HYDERABAD Aug. 10. The initial euphoria of the leaders of the Congress Forum for Telangana who faxed their resignation letters on Saturday seems to have ebbed within 24 hours with the AICC cold-shouldering their demand for a separate PCC for the Telangana region.

The intent of the letters was to create an alarm among the AICC leadership to seek concessions in their favour with regard to their demand. The CFT leadership was under the impression that the party president, Sonia Gandhi, would wake up to the seriousness of the issue and respond with an announcement on a separate PCC. Alternately, the CFT preferred at least a regional Congress committee or some kind of an assurance on separate Telangana as a saving grace.

Their expectations got fuelled further when the outgoing PCC president, M.Satyanarayana Rao, was summoned to New Delhi four days ago on the pretext of discussing the Telangana issue. The forum was happy that the CWC member, Ghulam Nabi Azad, who is incharge of the party affairs in the State, was planning to do so. A veteran that he is, Mr. Satyanarayana Rao could read the call properly and carried his resignation letter to avoid the humiliation of being shown the door unlike the CFT leaders who read too much into it.

What transpired at New Delhi came as a rude shock for the CFT. The decision of the AICC in just naming the new PCC chief without conceding any of the CFT demands was something they did not bargain for. They attribute the studied silence of the high command to the pressure by political heavyweights of the other regions.

The Delhi snub was bad enough, but worse still was the AICC's stand against two PCCs for the same State. The prospect of their activity being dubbed as dissidence, despite their reiteration that they would not desert the party, is also not being ruled out now.

Though the forum is claiming the support of many MLAs and AICC members, it could not muster the endorsement of the majority MLAs of the Telangana region, who for their own reasons wanted to play safe.

Those pleading caution argue that the AICC decision to "study the matter in depth'' is correct since similar demands might pose problems for the party high command in other regions like Vidarbha or `Harith Pradesh'. Hence, the trepidation in committing any act in haste.

The newly appointed PCC president, D. Srinivas, meanwhile, is pained at the turn of events. He got the news of his elevation on "an auspicious day'' (a festival day in fact) and was looking forward to a peaceful start to his tenure. This queering of the pitch was unwelcome for him as he does not want enemies. It is learnt that he is talking to them to retract their letters.

On the other hand, the high command has reportedly directed the chief spokesperson of the party, Jaipal Reddy, to intervene in the matter. The CFT leaders might settle for "some committee" as a way out, it is learnt. Mr.Reddy who is here on a personal visit, is holding consultations with the CFT members. As the drama is unfolds, it appears as though the CFT leaders have bitten more than what they could chew.