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Sonia and PM had made up their minds in May

According to sources,Sonia took a firm stand in her opening remarks at the CWC meeting

Written by D K Singh | New Delhi | Published: July 31, 2013 2:29 am

There may be a growing perception about them not being on the same page on many policy matters,but on the issue of creation of Telangana,Congress president Sonia Gandhi took the lead and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh backed her fully.

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According to sources,Sonia took a firm stand in her opening remarks at the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting on Tuesday evening which passed the resolution for creation of Telangana. “The demand for Telangana has been going on for long. It’s time we take a call on this,” she said.

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“It has been there for long enough. We cannot keep it pending. There are many reasons for and against it but it has been going on for long,” echoed Singh.

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While Ghulam Nabi Azad and Digvijaya Singh pitched in to make a strong case for creation of Telangana,they were only following a script that was learnt to have been prepared by Sonia and Manmohan Singh a couple of months earlier.

Sources said Sonia and the PM had taken a call on bifurcating Andhra Pradesh in May itself,but chose to give some time to party leaders and the government machinery in the state and Centre to sort out the details and prepare for the expected backlash from non-Telangana regions.

It was in keeping with this script that the PM inducted two more proponents of a “united Andhra” during the cabinet reshuffle last June,according to sources.

With the two new ministers — K S Rao and J D Seelam — the number of anti-Telangana leaders in the union council of ministers rose to nine,while there are only three pro-Telangana leaders. The move seemed to be an attempt to appease those opposing division of the state.

Two days before the Cabinet revamp,Sonia effected a reshuffle in the party,giving charge of Andhra Pradesh to Digvijaya Singh,with the specific assignment to pave the way for declaration of Telangana state,said sources.

Sonia’s decision was said to have been influenced by two reasons. First,said sources,she was “convinced” of the “strong sentiments” for statehood in the Telangana region and was conscious of the party’s stand on it. This was reflected in the PM’s remarks at the CWC meeting today,as he reminded party leaders of the Congress’s commitment on the issue — an apparent reference to the CWC’s proposal in 2001 for a Second States Reorganisation Commission and later in the party manifesto for the 2004 Andhra Pradesh Assembly elections.

Addressing a rally in Hyderabad in February 2009,Sonia had declared that the Congress was “in favour of formation of a separate state in principle” and “minor issues” needed to be addressed before a decision was taken.

Secondly,Sonia was conscious of the party’s increasing vulnerability in the state that elected 33 Congress MPs in the 2009 general elections. The formation of the YSR Congress has been a big blow for the party,and the PCC leadership’s failure to claim Y S Rajasekhara Reddy’s legacy further complicated the situation. Given that the TDP also appeared to be regaining lost ground,the Congress was forced to concentrate on Telangana region which sends 17 members to the Lok Sabha.

Congress sources today conceded that the party had taken a “political risk”,but was left with little choice in the matter.

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