Hyderabad: The Congress party on Friday deferred a decision on breaking up Andhra Pradesh after a core group meeting of the party’s leaders took a decision to discuss the contentious Telangana issue with the Congress working committee, the party’s top decision-making body.
“The Congress party has held widest consultations with all parties and their leaders, and finally the core group has now met the chief minister, deputy chief minister and the PCC (Pradesh Congress Committee) president to take a final view, and therefore now the Congress party shall take a decision before the working committee,” Digvijay Singh, general secretary, said in a statement after emerging from a two-hour meeting at the Prime Minister’s residence. No date was announced on when the meeting would take place.
Friday’s meeting was presided over by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, party president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi, and attended by Andhra Pradesh chief minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy, deputy chief minister C. Damodar Raja Narasimha and head of the party’s state unit Botsa Satyanarayana, who presented their opinions on the bifurcation of the state.
Digvijay Singh and Union health and family welfare minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, the current and former party officials in charge of Andhra Pradesh, were also present at the meeting. Singh had submitted a separate report containing his views to the party leadership on Wednesday.
“We were asked for our opinion on issues related to the state, Telangana (region) and our party, and the prevailing conditions. We expressed our views to our party president,” Raja Narasimha told regional news channel TV9 in New Delhi. “We are hopeful of a just decision in the near future.”
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader G. Kishan Reddy, who heads the party’s unit in Andhra Pradesh, criticized the lack of a timeframe in Singh’s statement. “The Congress party did not give a timeframe or set a date on when the meeting would take place,” he told reporters at the party’s headquarters in Hyderabad. “Why should a decision take so much time?”
The Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS), which has been leading a struggle for the formation of Telangana, comprising 10 districts in the western region of Andhra Pradesh, described the outcome as an “internal matter” of the Congress. “They have a certain procedure within the party to arrive at any decision,” Niranjan Reddy, a TRS politburo member, told TV9 in an interview.
The Congress party core committee could not reach a decision as many top leaders were of the view that bifurcation of the state would lead to further trouble, according to a person familiar with the development. “In this case, the state chief minister is opposing the proposal, the state PCC chief is noncommittal, defence minister A.K. Antony is not in favour of it, and senior leaders who dealt with the state did not back the demand,” the person said.
Telangana statehood has been a highly emotive issue in Andhra Pradesh ever since a fast-unto-death by TRS party president K. Chandrasekhara Rao in November 2009 prompted the Union government on 9 December that year to announce its decision to initiate the formation of Telangana state. The government had to go back on its word following en masse resignations of elected representatives from the Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra regions of the state.
Fearing an announcement in favour of a Telangana state, different groups under the aegis of the Seemandhra joint action committee observed a bandh in the coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions on Friday.