Hyderabad: The Union government again postponed deciding on a statehood for the Telangana region in Andhra Pradesh, saying it needed more time for consultations on the final day of an expected solution.
“It may take a little more time to reach a final decision,” home minister Sushilkumar Shinde said in a statement on Sunday, adding that a consultation process was underway.
Shinde had on 28 December said the government would announce a decision on the contentious Telangana issue within a month, after an all-party meeting called by his ministry.
Ghulam Nabi Azad, general secretary of the Congress party that leads the government at the centre, however, said there was “no deadline” for resolving the issue.
“We need some more consultation with the senior leaders of Andhra Pradesh of all three regions,” said Azad, also the Union health minister.
Telangana, which comprises Hyderabad and nine other districts, is home to 35 million people.
The demand for the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh rests on a perception that the region’s growth has been hurt because of neglect by successive Andhra-dominated state governments.
“We are disappointed as we are expecting a decision in favour of Telangana state,” said K. Keshava Rao, a Congress leader from the Telangana region, of his party’s delay in announcing a separate state. “They have their own compulsions for the delay but we still hope that the party is sincere at resolving the issue.”
“We are not surprised,” said T. Harish Rao, a state lawmaker and nephew of Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) chief K. Chandrasekhara Rao, who has led the agitation for statehood.
“The Congress party is not sincere at resolving the statehood demand for Telangana despite the fact that the region is boiling for years by a popular agitation,” Rao said.
The TRS will press for the resignations of Congress legislators and ministers from the Telangana region for letting down the hopes of the people wanting a separate state, he added.
The Congress party leads the government in Andhra Pradesh.
The “Congress is playing politics of procrastination,” said K. Nageshwar, journalism professor at Osmania University and an independent member of legislative council in the state.
“They are making a farce. Why did they conduct an all-party meeting? Why did they set a deadline? Why did they create the impression as if Telangana is (being) formed?” Nageshwar said. “They are deliberately whipping up passions on both sides. That is unpardonable.”
Andhra Pradesh has been rocked by periodic bouts of unrest the past three years over the campaign for Telangana.
In December 2009, the centre promised steps towards the creation of a separate state, persuading the TRS’ Chandrasekhara Rao to call off a hunger strike before backtracking on that assurance.
Pro-Telangana activists on Sunday launched a 36-hour protest to mount pressure on the government to concede statehood to the Telangana region.
The state government initially refused permission for the protest but eventually gave in after imposing certain conditions and restricting any gathering to 2,000.
Earlier in the day, scores of pro-Telangana leaders and activists were taken into custody from different places when they attempted to march towards Indira Park, the protest venue.
At the Osmania University campus, police shelled tear gas to disperse a group of pro-Telangana students who attempted to take out a rally towards the governor’s residence.
PTI contributed to this story.