Hectic consultations on Telangana; TRS, TDP to boycott meeting

Congress on Wednesday held several rounds of discussions with Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy and leaders from Telangana region on the eve of the release of the Justice Srikrishna Committee report on the emotive issue.

Last Updated: Jan 05, 2011, 22:02 PM IST

New Delhi: Congress on Wednesday held several
rounds of discussions with Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Kiran
Kumar Reddy and leaders from Telangana region on the eve of
the release of the Justice Srikrishna Committee report on the
emotive issue.

TRS, TDP and BJP have announced that they will skip
the meeting convened by Home Minister P Chidambaram tomorrow
to discuss the report, after which it will be made public.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi held consultations
with Kiran Reddy for over an hour in the morning and is
understood to have discussed the political situation and the
likely fallout of the report.

"I also do not know what is in the report. Experts
have gone into the issue (Telangana) in detail. Let us wait
for them to submit the report. Let us see what is in it before
making comments," he told reporters at the Andhra Bhawan here.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee told the two
Congress leaders, who will represent the party in tomorrow`s
meeting, that it is just to hand over Justice Srikrishna
committee report to political parties and that they will get
some time to give their opinion on the emotive issue.

Later, he also met with MPs and and senior leaders
from Telangana and got to know the situation in the region.
Ahmed Patel, the Congress chief`s political secretary, was
also present at the meeting.

After the meeting, the leaders said the Congress High
Command has always been symphathetic to the cause of a
separate Telangana and hoped that a new state will be formed.

Regional differences in the ruling Congress persisted
with MP K Sambasiva Rao and MLA Uttam Kumar Reddy, who hail
from coastal Andhra and Telangana regions respectively,
meeting Mukherjee separately.

The two had represented the party during the previous
meeting convened by the Centre on the statehood issue last
year.

The Chief Minister also met with Mukherjee and
Chidambaram and is believed to have deliberated on the
Telangana report.

Andhra Pradesh is awaiting with bated breath for the
release of the report, which is understood to have dwelled
into the demands for a separate Telangana state as well as a
united Andhra Pradesh.

During the meeting with Gandhi, the Chief Minister is
believed to have briefed the Congress president about the
elaborate security arrangements made by his government to
thwart any violence. Patel was also present at the meeting.

Violence had erupted last year in the Telangana
region after the Centre decided to hold wide-ranging
consultations with all stakeholders on the statehood demand.

The issue of Congress MPs and MLAs threatening to
resign from their posts if the committee did not recommend a
separate Telangana state is also believed to have come up for
discussion.
However, Kiran Reddy refused to say what transpired at
the meeting. "It is not proper for me to say what I discussed
with my President," he told reporters.

Meanwhile, TRS rejected a fresh appeal from
Chidambaram to attend tomorrow`s meeting of political parties
on the Srikrishna report.

TRS sources said the party was staying away since
Chidambaram had not responded to the objections raised by the
party. Another Opposition party TDP also decided to stay away
from the meeting. BJP had already decided not to participate.

With this, only five parties -- Congress, PRP, MIM,
CPI and CPI(M) will attend the meeting during which
Chidambaram will share the contents of the report.

Security has been tightened across AP to ward off any
trouble since violence had erupted last year in the Telangana
region after the Centre decided to hold wide-ranging
consultations with all stakeholders on the statehood demand.

The panel submitted the two-volume report on December
30 in which it has reportedly given several options and the
pros and cons to approach the statehood issue that has
virtually divided major political parties on regional lines.

The committee has said that it has given a "roadmap"
to approach the Telangana statehood issue and hoped that it
would give "highest satisfaction to the largest number of
people".

After the meeting, Rao and Reddy told reporters
separately that Mukherjee told them that tomorrow`s meeting
has been convened only to hand over the 600-page report to
political parties.

"Pranab Mukherjee told us that we would be given some
time to go into the report. He asked us to use the time to
discuss the report with colleagues and formulate a response,"
Uttam Kumar Reddy said.

Law Minister and party in-charge of Andhra Pradesh M
Veerappa Moily was also present during the meetings.

"He briefed us about the agenda for tomorrow`s
meeting," Reddy said, adding that Mukherjee told him that
there would be another meeting of political parties in two or
three weeks to discuss the report.

During their brief interaction with reporters, Rao and
Reddy stuck to their known stand on Telangana statehood issue,
which has virtually divided the Congress on regional lines.

While Reddy said he hoped that Telangana would be
formed, Rao was of the opinion that it is not easy to divide a
state.

"I hope that Telangana with Hyderabad as capital will
be one of the options given by the Srikrishna Committee,"
Reddy said.

But Rao said, "It is not easy to divide Andhra Pradesh
and I am a staunch believer of united Andhra Pradesh."

PTI