A decision on carving out a separate state of Telangana could be announced before the monsoon session of Parliament as the Congress Friday concluded consultations on the testy issue.
Sources said the party was inclined to concede the demand for Telangana despite reservations within and stiff opposition from Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy.
The monsoon session of Parliament is due to begin on August 5.
The consultations dragged on because of the deep divergence of views in the party. Congress sources said a Congress Working Committee meeting could be convened soon to give the stamp of approval to the decision.
The consultation process is over. Now await the decision of the party as well as the UPA government, AICC general secretary in charge of Andhra Pradesh,Digvijaya Singh,said after a meeting of the Congress core group.
Earlier in the day,deployment of paramilitary forces in Hyderabad and cities and towns in coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema districts triggered speculation that the announcement on the formation of Telangana was close.
Digvijaya Singhs statement in Delhi that consultations were over and the time had come to take a decision led to Jai Telangana slogans in Warangal,Medak and Ranga Reddy districts where Telangana activists and Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) workers burst crackers.
Telangana leaders were expecting the statehood announcement to coincide with the ongoing,week-long Bonalu celebrations,the regions biggest festival. However,reports that Hyderabad may be designated as a joint capital for a few years,and that the new state could be Rayala-Telangana,dampened the spirits of the pro-Telangana groups.
CRPF and Rapid Action Force companies were deployed in Vijayawada,Guntur,Eluru,East and West Godavari,Prakasam,Kadapa and Anantapur. The presence of Karnataka Polices special force besides the paramilitary battalions is being seen as the states preparation to use a neutral force to deal with any trouble the Telangana announcement could trigger.
DGP V Dinesh Reddy,however,maintained that the force had been deployed for panchayat elections.
In New Delhi,Digvijaya Singh met Chief Minister Reddy and also held separate meetings with state Congress chief Botsa Satyanarayana and Deputy Chief Minister Damodar Rajanarasimha before the core group met. Singh,significantly,did not meet MPs from Seemandhra who are against splitting Andhra Pradesh.
The Congress has been dithering on the issue for long after an assessment that creating Telangana could open the floodgates of demands for smaller states and create an internal security challenge in some regions. Demands for creating Bodoland and Gorkhaland states have been pending and the home ministry assessment,sources said,was that splitting Andhra Pradesh would revive armed movements there.
But the Congress seems to have decided to bite the bullet on the back of pragmatic political calculations. If Andhra Pradesh is split,sources said,Hyderabad would be made the capital of the new state,although it is yet to be decided whether it could be made the joint capital for some years.
Meanwhile,those opposing splitting the state are mounting pressure sensing a Congress decision was on the cards with some MLAs – including one from the Congress – announcing their resignations.
After meeting senior party leaders including Digvijaya Singh and Ghulam Nabi Azad,MPs,MLAs and leaders of coastal and Rayalaseema districts met first at Andhra Bhavan and later at the residence of Union minister Kavuru Sambasiva Rao to discuss what they could do next to persuade the Congress leadership not to split the state.
Sources in the Congress said more than 70 party MLAs had indicated that they would resign if the split is announced.
Several MPs were also learnt to have conveyed this to Digvijaya Singh Friday. Chief Minister Reddy conveyed the opposition from MPs and MLAs of coastal and Rayalaseema to Sonia Gandhi during an hour-long meeting.
But after the Congress core committee meeting started in New Delhi,the tone of many Congress leaders and ministers who were against Telangana changed,and they issued statements that they would abide by whatever decision the party takes.