The ruling Congress has for the first time publicly committed to carving out a separate state of Telangana, saying it was just a matter of time. At a party briefing here, the spokesperson PC Chacko said his party was never against statehood for Telangana and even referred to party president Sonia Gandhi’s letter to then home minister LK Advani in 2000, demanding the division of Andhra Pradesh, on the lines of Bihar and Madhya Pradesh. The remarks assume significance as they have come when parliament’s budget session is scheduled to start from February 21.
Chacko said multi-layered discussions were taking place to sort out all issues and complete the formalities. He, however, did not say how soon the new state would be born. So far the party spokespersons were sending confusing signals like — “Telangana” and “no Telangana but some other mechanism” and refusing to commit with the excuse that it is a very sensitive issue.
The only glitch that appears to delay the decision seems to be Hyderabad as to whether it becomes a Union territory like Chandigarh or becomes the capital of one of the two states. Later, a senior Congress leader said the party and the government were engaged in working out an economic and political package to pacify frayed nerves in rest of Andhra Pradesh, i.e. Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra.
Sources say, the party’s clarification on Telangana came to put an end to resignation threats from the Andhra MPs and MLAs. The leaders said Chacko has not made any new disclosure. “Didn’twe not commit it in our 2004 poll manifesto,” a leader asked.
Immediately after Chacko’s clear stand in the AICC press briefing, the Congress MPs who had rushed to Delhi on Wednesday announced that they are not quitting in view of the “categorical assurance” by the party on statehood. [DNA]