December 14, 2009 1:46:32 pm
In the forenoon of October 30,2001,when the NDA was in power,an informal meeting of the Congress Working Committee meeting considered what a party sub-committee had submitted on the question or demand for smaller states.
The sub-committee,comprising Arjun Singh,the late Madhavrao Scindia,Ambika Soni,Oscar Fernandes and even then headed by Pranab Mukherjee,concluded that there were valid reasons for the formation of separate states of Vidarbha and Telangana,but that a new States Reorganisation Commission was needed to consider the whole issue. It recommended that the Congress ask the Government of India to set up such a commission.
While the CWC accepted the recommendation,says Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh,then home minister L K Advani rejected the suggestion. Singh adds that the Congress stand has been consistent,though the BJP now backs the demand for a separate Telangana state.
A section of the Congress leadership,including Digvijay,is in favour of a second States Reorganisation Commission to absorb and consider various demands for separate states as a way of resolving the trouble that has erupted on Telangana. Looking at the ramifications of creation of a separate state on the rest of India,apart from of course Andhra Pradesh a state crucial for the ruling party the Congress is keen to defuse the situation.
The Congress sub-committee in its 2001 recommendation said: The committee has gone into the history of demand for separate statehood for Vidarbha and Telangana from the times of the establishment of the States Reorganisation Commission in 1953. The committee has come to the conclusion that there are many valid reasons for the formation of the two states. However,the reorganisation of existing states raises a large number of issues and the committee feels that this whole issue can best be addressed by another States Reorganisation Commission to be set up by the Government of India. The committee suggests that the CWC may consider asking the Government of India to set up such a commission.
While Digvijay cites this eight-year-old resolution to underline the Congresss consistent stand on the matter,the fact is that the party has itself dithered over announcing such a commission even after the Telangana Rashtra Samithi walked out from the UPA in 2006 over the issue. It was perhaps more mindful then of objections of other allies as well as the Lefts concern that this would open a Pandoras Box (the Left was an ally of the UPA at the time,and opposed to revisiting the issue of linguistic states).
In the light of demands from within the Congress from Andhra Pradesh last year in December,several party leaders had again suggested a second SRC as the way out. As The Indian Express reported at the time,at a meeting of the Congress president with state MPs on December 19,2008,Congress Nizamabad MP Madhu Goud Yaskhi raised the issue,arguing that the party had to take a stand on statehood for Telangana. However,faced with opposition from other leaders,the issue had been again shelved.
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