Congress will pay a heavy price for dithering

[Editorial – The Pioneer]

The Telangana cauldron has begun to boil again for the Congress, after simmering for a while. Senior leader Keshav Rao along with other party heavyweights from Andhra Pradesh is poised to dump the Congress and join the Telangana Rashtra Samithi. This was only to be expected, given that the Congress has been dragging its feet on the issue of creating a Telangana State. These leaders from the Telangana region have been finding it increasingly difficult to justify their party’s prevarication for years, even though the Congress had assured the people that a separate Telangana State would be carved out of Andhra Pradesh at the earliest. Mr Rao and others realise that they will not only stand discredited but that their political careers could also be in jeopardy if they continue with the Congress in the given situation.

The Congress has got away for far too long on the issue. In the initial stages, it justified the delay in taking a decision on the ground that all opinions had to be collected first. The Congress-led Government at the Centre even set up the Justice Srikrishna committee to study the issue. The panel did nothing to further the cause of decision-making, because it simply laid down the various options before the Government on the matter — options which everyone knew about even before this panel submitted its report. Since then, every time pressure was built on the Congress’s central leadership, the party would wake up and announce that there would be a decision soon. Just to keep the pro-Telangana faction happy, senior Congress leaders would announce that the Government had not ruled out a Telangana State.

But now it seems that the party’s delaying and misleading tactics have run their course. The revolt of the senior leaders will come as a big blow to the Congress even as it prepares to retain its hold in the State in the coming Lok Sabha and Assembly elections. There is little doubt in any bipartisan observer’s mind that the Congress will suffer grievously in the State, which has been its bastion ever since it displaced the Telugu Desam Party led by Mr Chandrababu Naidu. It is not just the Telangana issue but also the presence of YSR Congress which is giving the Congress sleepless nights. The party could have gained some advantage had it effectively handled the Telangana issue. But it has messed up the sensitive subject, and will pay for that.

Meanwhile, the growing strength of TRS leader K Chandrasekhar Rao, though limited to the Telangana region, has the potential to result in a new political scenario in the State. While the Congress can forget victory in Telangana, the BJP does have the opportunity to align with the TRS. After all, the country’s main Opposition party has been unambiguously supporting the formation of a Telangana State, and has even promised its early creation in case the NDA led by it comes to power in New Delhi.

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