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P Chidambaram fills Pranab’s slot as Congress master draftsman

Chidambaram authored the crucial two-page resolution on Telangana.

Written by Swaraj Thapa | New Delhi | August 1, 2013 12:36:01 am

Finanace Minister P Chidambaram is the new draftsman of the Congress party,filling in the slot vacated by Pranab Mukherjee after his elevation as President a year ago.

Chidambaram authored the crucial two-page resolution on Telangana that was adopted by the Congress Working Committee on Tuesday. The resolution not only reflects the intense consultation process that took place within the top leadership of both the party and the government but also hints at mechanisms proposed to avoid potential political and administrative pitfalls.

“The proposal to set up a Group of Ministers for instance,once the communication from the Andhra Pradesh assembly regarding creation of Telangana is received by the Centre and taken up by the Union cabinet,is to look into issues of how administration of the common capital Hyderabad is to be handled for 10 years,” a UPA functionary said. Chidambaram,saying legal and administrative measures will be taken in this regard.

To assuage the sentiments of the people of the rest of Andhra Pradesh,the resolution hints at a special financial package for the backward areas of the region.

Much of the consultations were done at the highest level with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh,with Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi in the know. According to sources,the other person privy to the contents of the resolution was AICC general secretary in charge of Andhra Pradesh Digvijaya Singh. Other members of the core group including Ahmed Patel and Home Minister Sushil Shinde were also in the know,though not quite involved with the drafting of the resolution.

The resolution was drafted before the meeting of the UPA coordination committee,showing that the CWC meeting was a carefully orchestrated event to give the stamp of approval to the decision on Telangana. In fact,in the CWC meeting at least two members — Ambika Soni and Gurudas Kamath — signalled they were opposed to the creation of Telangana but said if a decision had already been taken,they would abide by it.

Chidambaram’s role as author of the CWC resolution now pitchforks him to one of the envious positions within the Congress hierarchy that was enjoyed for long by Pranab Mukherjee. The party veteran,now away from active politics after his entry into the Rashtrapati Bhawan,had authored innumerable CWC resolutions as well as drafts of Congress election manifestos,using the language in a manner that made it difficult to pin the party on any particular issue.

The growing dependence on Chidambaram for his drafting skills was indicated during previous sessions in Parliament,when he was among the authors of the draft on the issue of Sri Lanka both in Parliament as well as to the UN.

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