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Centre says a guarded yes to Telangana

Buckling to pressure,the Centre conceded to the demand for a separate Telangana state for which the process will be initiated and an appropriate resolution will be moved in the Andhra Assembly.

Moving to defuse the crisis in Andhra Pradesh where students have called for a march to the state Assembly on Thursday to press for a separate state of Telangana,the Centre tonight announced that the process of the formation of a Telangana state will be initiated and an appropriate resolution will be moved in the state Assembly. The Centre,however,did not give any timeline for the creation of the state.

TRS chief K Chandrasekhara Rao broke his fast shortly after the announcement. This came after hectic consultations among top Congress leaders — Chief Minister K Rosaiah also flew in from Hyderabad — and negotiations with the TRS leadership. Said Home Minister P Chidambaram late in the night: “The process of forming the state of Telangana will be initiated. An appropriate resolution will be moved in the Assembly.”

“We are concerned about Rao’s health. We request him to withdraw his fast immediately. We also appeal to all concerned,especially students,to withdraw their agitation and help restore normalcy,” he said.

The Centre also asked Rosaiah to withdraw cases filed on or after November 29 against students,leaders and those associated with the agitation for a separate Telangana. Rosaiah has told the Centre he will take necessary steps.

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While Chidambaram’s statement is expected to end the immediate political crisis,there are many loose ends to be tied. While the Assembly is expected to send a resolution to the Centre shortly,New Delhi has not made any commitment on any timeline for creation of a separate state.

The ambiguity over a timeline reflected the Centre’s reluctance to open a Pandora’s Box given the spate of demands for separate states in different parts of the country. In Andhra Pradesh itself,there are demands for the creation of separate states of north-coastal Andhra and Rayalseema.

With the Telangana protests boiling over,the Congress in Andhra Pradesh also stood divided — party MPs from Telangana supported the demand for a separate state while those from other regions opposed it saying it would lead to demands for separate north-coastal Andhra and Rayalseema. Over a dozen MPs from the Telangana region met the PM,demanding a separate state. Fifteen Congress MPs from the region too wrote to Sonia Gandhi with the same demand.

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In Hyderabad,tension mounted after doctors at the Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS) said TRS chief Rao’s health had deteriorated after 11 days of fasting. But late this evening,Rao agreed to central venous line placement,parenteral nutrition and fluids beside antibiotic therapy. Antifungal therapy was also started.

Earlier in the day,Parliament conveyed its concern over the situation and members asked the PM to intervene and persuade Rao to withdraw his fast. Opposition leader L K Advani urged the government to immediately intervene and sort out the issue. “Both Telangana and Rao are important,” he said. Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar said: “It is the wish of the entire House that he regains good health soon.”

The Andhra Assembly was adjourned for the second day today with TRS members disrupting the House,demanding a resolution for a separate Telangana. Expressing concern over Rao’s health and the need to maintain law and order,Speaker N Kirankumar Reddy,Chief Minister Rosaiah and Opposition leader Chandrababu Naidu appealed to the TRS chief to call off the fast.

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Students from across Telangana are expected to march to the Assembly building tomorrow. The students have threatened to overrun the Assembly complex and declare a separate Telangana state.

Determined to prevent the march,police and paramilitary forces today took hundreds of students into preventive custody. The joint action committee (JAC) of Osmania University students association has appealed to students across Telangana to converge at the Assembly building tomorrow morning.

“If the students heed this call,the situation is going to be explosive since they will try to sneak into the Assembly complex. Restraining them without using force is going to be quite a challenge,” said Hyderabad Police Commissioner B Prasada Rao.

IGP A R Anuradha told reporters they had information that Maoists would try to sneak into the march called by the JAC and the TRS.

The Osmania University was deserted after the preventive detentions. Earlier,police evicted students from 12 hostels after the university administration ordered students to vacate the rooms.

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But in a setback for authorities,the AP High Court set aside the government order closing universities and colleges in Hyderabad and nine other districts in the Telangana region till December 19. The JAC had challenged the closure order in the High Court. A single-judge bench also directed the government to reopen all hostels and ordered that supply of water and electricity be restored immediately.

First published on: 09-12-2009 at 01:10:40 pm
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