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Ministerial panel may decide on Telangana

Congress leadership has decided to initiate the process of achieving consensus on the Telangana issue in the next few days.

Written by Swaraj Thapa | New Delhi | December 29, 2009 5:06:00 am

A ministerial committee that will hold “wide ranging consultations” on Telangana with stakeholders in Andhra Pradesh has emerged as a distinct possibility after the Congress leadership on Monday decided to initiate the process of achieving consensus on the issue in the next few days. The decision to begin the process was taken at a core group meeting on Monday,presided by Congress president Sonia Gandhi and attended by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee,Defence Minister A K Antony,Home Minister P Chidambaram,Law Minister M Veerappa Moily and political secretary to the Congress president Ahmed Patel. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was not present in the meeting.

“The mechanism to deal with the situation is yet to be decided. However,it was agreed that the process of holding wider consultations should begin in the next few days,” political sources told The Indian Express. Sources added that Monday’s meeting was not conclusive and did not finalise the mode that could be employed to deal with the Telangana tangle. “But the meeting agreed that the operative line,as articulated in the second statement of the Union Home Minister,was on holding wider consultations,which would have to be started,” sources said.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has convened a meeting of the Union Cabinet on Tuesday where a discussion on Telangana is not ruled out.

The option of a second State Reorganisation Commission was ruled out categorically by UPA sources,with hints that the Union Home Ministry had advised against such a move. A second SRC,sources said,was not only unacceptable to both pro and anti-Telangana sides but would also open a Pandora’s box with a litany of fresh statehood demands in other regions. They pointed out that the first SRC that was set up on December 29,1953 ended up receiving 1,52,250 petitions of which well considered memoranda numbered about 2,000. Besides going through these memoranda,the Commission,headed by S Fazl Ali with H N Kunzru and K M Panikkar as members,interviewed over 9,000 persons and travelled over 38,000 miles all over the country. The Commission submitted its report on September 30,1955. New demands for separate states were then made,for the first time. These demands included statehood for Coorg,Kutch,Tripura,Hyderabad,Vidarbha,Vindhya Pradesh,Maru Pradesh,Bundelkhand,a separate state out of Western UP districts,state of Agra and a Centrally administered territory status for Mumbai.

The stand against setting of a second SRC goes against the Congress’ own CWC resolution,which it had adopted in 2001. With the CWC resolution serving as the backdrop,UPA-I,in its common minimum programme had said it would work for consensus on Telangana. A senior Congress leader,however,said the CWC resolution was not relevant today and if the party was to revisit the issue,it would have to convene a meeting of the apex decision-making body to take a fresh view.

Protests continue,bandh on Dec 30

Hyderabad: Rallies,hunger strikes and demonstrations continued in Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh on Monday with the Joint Action Committee deciding to step up its protests to mount pressure on the Centre for a separate state. The all-party JAC,including TDP and a number of other outfits,had called for protest rallies across the region on Monday and Tuesday,followed by a bandh on December 30. The JAC held a marathon meeting on Sunday following which the decision to intensify the agitation was taken. The Telangana Police Officer’s (Rtd) Association has expressed its solidarity with the agitation. Former state DGP P Ramulu said the ‘Telangana spirit’ has spread to village and grassroots levels.PTI

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