Telangana: Congress Makes A Poll Statement

    NEW DELHI (TIP): The timing is near-perfect. After dragging its feet on the issue for years, the Congress’ highest decisionmaking body, Congress working committee (CWC) on Tuesday approved the carving out of Telangana from Andhra Pradesh to shore up the party’s political fortunes in the region. The Congress is expected to capitalise on this to get the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS), the main driving force behind the demand for a separate statehood, to merge with it ahead of the general elections next year.

    “It has been resolved to request the Central government to take steps in accordance with the Constitution to form a separate state of Telangana…within a definite time frame,” stated a resolution adopted at the meeting. Ajay Maken, chief party spokesperson, said the Congress has also recommended making Hyderabad a joint capital of the newly-proposed state and the other regions — Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra — for a period of 10 years. But don’t bring out the bubbly as yet.

    The process of setting up a new state will take four to five months. Digvijay Singh, Congress general secretary and Andhra Pradesh in-charge, said the decision was made keeping in mind the long-standing demand of the people of Telangana. “Security, water issues and liabilities will be considered while drafting of the bill. Modalities will be worked out.” As per the scheme of things, 10 districts — Adilabad, Karimnagar, Warangal, Khammam, Nalgonda, Hyderabad, Mahbubnagar, Rangareddy, Medak and Nizamabad — will be part of Telangana.

    It will get 17 of 42 Lok Sabha seats and 119 of 294 assembly seats. The decision to carve out the 29th state came after hectic consultations over the past week, with many ministers and MPs trying to persuade leaders to abandon the idea of a divided Andhra. Congress president Sonia Gandhi had conveyed her decision to back Telangana last Friday at the party’s core group meeting. Tuesday’s meetings of the UPA coordination committee and the CWC were, therefore, a mere formality.

    “At the UPA coordination meeting, we unanimously decided to support the formation of the new state,” said Ajit Singh, Rashtriya Lok Dal leader, who attended the meet with Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar and National Conference president Dr Farooq Abdullah, besides other allies. Congress sources, however, didn’t agree with the claim of unanimity.

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    They said some leaders asked home minister Sushilkumar Shinde about issues pertaining to law and order as well as the effect the decision will have on other separate statehood demands. The day had its share of last-ditch efforts by several Union ministers from Andhra to prevent the bifurcation.

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