Jaganmohan Reddy comes calling, Mamata backs united Andhra call

Endeavouring to build a national consensus against a separate Telangana state, YSR Congress president YS Jaganmohan Reddy met with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee here on Wednesday.

IANS| Last Updated: Nov 20, 2013, 17:56 PM IST

Kolkata: In his bid to build a national consensus against a separate Telangana state and stall the bifurcation bill in parliament, YSR Congress president YS Jaganmohan Reddy on Wednesday met West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and got her support.

"While we are pressing for the need to amend Article 3 (of the Constitution), the immediate need is to stop the bifurcation bill when it is raised in parliament," Jagan Reddy, as he is popularly called, said after meeting the Trinamool Congress supremo.

"For this, we have come here and asked Didi (Mamata) for her support and she was kind enough to extend her support and we are very thankful to her," said Reddy with Banerjee by his side after their half-hour meeting at the state secretariat here.

Opposed to the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, Reddy`s meeting with Banerjee was part of his nationwide tour to garner support against the formation of a separate Telangana.

Describing the Telangana decision as "arbitrary", Reddy sought amendment to Article 3 of the Constitution which deals with creation of a new state.

"We have been pressing vehemently for an amendment to Article 3. We are pressing that a national resolution should be mandatory and not only mandatory, it should have two-thirds majority supporting the bill," he said.

"Only when two-thirds of the people in the assembly and in parliament support the bill, only then should a state be split. Otherwise no government in Delhi should be given the power to arbitrarily split a state at their whims and fancies," added Reddy.

Addressing Reddy as her younger brother, Banerjee extended her support for a "united Andhra".

"The public should have been consulted and other options should have been explored," she said.

"Our stand is always clear. We are always for united India and the people of this country. Yes, there are states where there may be local demands. But our policy is very clear, we can expand the area or expand or create more districts for development of the state or its backward regions," Banerjee said.

"If all the people are willing, then a state may be bifurcated. Like when Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Uttarakhand were created, all parties supported it," said Banerjee.

Banerjee herself is battling the demand for a separate Gorkhaland. She had dubbed the United Progressive Alliance`s endorsement of Telangana as "divisive politics made with an eye to the next general elections".

With Banerjee already urging regional parties to come together, her meeting with Reddy assumes some political importance in view of the 2014 general elections. Many observers feel that regional parties could play an important role in government formation at the centre in 2014.

"We are not for a Third Front, we are not for Secular Front. We are for a United India Front," said Banerjee.

Facing charges in disproportionate assets cases and now out on bail, Reddy is expected to call on Samajwadi Party leaders, including Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, Thursday.

Reddy has already met Bharatiya Janata Party president Rajnath Singh, Communist Party of India Marxist (CPI-M) and Communist Party of India (CPI) leaders before his Kolkata visit.