Telangana Heat Rises As Centre’s Deadline Draws Near

HYDERABAD (TIP): A bitter regional showdown appears on cards in Andhra Pradesh as the January 28 deadline set by the UPA government for announcing a decision on the raging Telangana statehood issue is fast approaching. Providing a glimpse of the political turbulence ahead, the ruling Congress leaders from Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra regions, who are opposed to the bifurcation of the state, met here today and adopted a unanimous resolution calling for maintaining the status quo. The meeting, attended by 62 leaders including 15 Ministers, 35 MLAs, eight MLCs and two MPs, warned of “serious political consequences” if the state was divided.

“Nothing short of maintaining the united Andhra Pradesh is acceptable to us,” the resolution said. The gathering of integrationists came in the backdrop of a buzz in political circles that the Centre has made up its mind to carve out a separate Telangana state to fulfil the aspirations of the people of the backward region. The three-hour long meeting also decided a send a delegation to Delhi on January 21 to meet the central party leaders and impress upon them the need to keep the state united.

“It is good for the party and the people if the state remains united. We are confident of convincing the Centre against bifurcation and will convey the feelings of the people to the party leadership,” Primary Education Minister S Shailajanath said after the meeting. The resolution cited a statement made by former Prime Minister late Indira Gandhi in the Lok Sabha on November 27, 1972 in which she said, “I stand firmly for the integrated state of Andhra Pradesh after the consideration of the pros and cons of the two agitations (Jai Telangana and Jai Andhra)”. “The meeting endorsed her statement and wanted the present leadership to remain committed to this stand,” Shailajanath said. On their part, the Telangana protagonists took out a rally and tried to disrupt the meeting of the integrationists.

The members of the Telangana Joint Action Committee (TJAC), a conglomeration of various political and social groups fighting for the statehood cause, staged a silent march. The police arrested several pro-Telangana students here when tried to disrupt the meeting of Seemandhra (a reference to Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra) leaders at the Ministers’ Quarters in Banjara Hills. Raising slogans of ‘Jai Telangana’, the students said they would not allow any meeting aimed at stalling the formation of Telangana state. After chairing an all-party meeting on Telangana in Delhi on December 28, the Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde had announced that the Centre would announce its decision within a month.

The Congress leadership is expected to take a final call on the vexatious issue during its “Chintan Shivir” in Jaipur. The ruling party is caught in a Catch-22 situation on the long-pending demand for creation of Telangana state, comprising ten districts, with Hyderabad as the capital. While leaders from Telangana region, cutting across party lines, have been rooting for a separate state, their counterparts in the Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra regions are equally vociferous in their opposition to the bifurcation. There were indications earlier that the UPA leadership was considering a proposal to constitute an autonomous Telangana Regional Council, on the lines of Darjeeling Hill Council, to put an end to the political uncertainty in the state, a formulation that is unacceptable to the Telangana protagonists.

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