Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and several Congress leaders are against the formation of a separate state but are supporting the decision in the hope that it would win the party seats in the region. Renu Mittal reports
There is increasing disquiet within the Congress party over the manner in which Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi is railroading the Telangana decision disregarding the assessment of a large section of the party. The security apparatus of the country too feels that creating Telangana could be one of the bigger mistakes of this government.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi has convened a rare meeting of the Congress Working Committee on Tuesday evening to get an endorsement from the party leaders for the creation of Telangana. Since the old CWC resolution had wanted the creation of a second state reorganisation commission, which did not happen, the Congress needs to go back to the CWC for a fresh decision. This is not in consonance with what the CWC had earlier said.
It is learnt that Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh is against the decision to carve out Telangana from Andhra Pradesh. The prime minister goes by the advice of the security agencies, whose assessment has been that the creation of Telangana would become a hotbed of Naxal activities.
They cite the example of Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand that were created after carving out Madhya Pradesh and Bihar. Large areas of these two states are under the control and command of the naxals. Elected governments are unable to penetrate the web laid out by the naxals, who run a parallel government.
It may be recalled that in May, in one of the most brutal attacks, virtually the entire top Congress leadership of Chhattisgarh was wiped out after the naxals attacked their convoy. The same situation exists in Jharkhand.
While the decision on Telangana is, reportedly, now being pushed by Rahul Gandhi, Finance Minister P Chidambaram and Minister of Health and Family Welfare Ghulam Nabi Azad, most others are believed to be opposed to it. Senior Congress leaders like Digvijaya Singh, Sushil Kumar Shinde, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Kiran Reddy, Andhra Pradesh Governor Narasimhan and several others are opposed to the creation of a separate state.
Sources say that with a view of Rahul Gandhi’s prime ministership and keeping the logic of numbers alive, the decision is being pushed by the Congress in the hope that it would win seats in Telangana. This could to some extent make up the perceived loss for the party after the death of former Andhra Pradesh chief minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy and the expulsion of his son Jaganmohan Reddy.
Chidambaram, as the home minister, had announced the decision on separate statehood in December 2009 after Telangana Rashtra Samithi chief K Chandrasekhar Rao sat on a fast unto death. However, after violent protests the party backtracked on its decision. But now with elections around the corner, the party leadership has decided to up the ante and make a move to recover lost ground.
The UPA coordination committee will meet at 4 pm on Tuesday which will be followed by a Congress Working Committee meet at 5.30 pm. The body is expected to echo the Congress president’s dictation and endorse the decision though some senior leaders may voice caution. That is as far as the CWC members go when they don’t approve of a decision.
An all party meeting would be called followed by an announcement in Parliament. The government is then expected to get down to the job of putting together the nuts and bolts of the operation, which is likely to take more than a couple of months.
With the panchayat raj elections in Andhra Pradesh expected to conclude on Tuesday, the government has already begun to move troops to the Rayalaseema and coastal regions of Andhra Pradesh to ensure that violent protests and clashes do not get out of hand. Meanwhile, MPs, MLAs and others who are votaries of a united Andhra are getting ready to announce their resignations in protest over the move to split the state.
Chief Minister Kiran Reddy had made it clear to Congress leaders that he would not preside over the division of Andhra Pradesh. He has threatened to resign but leaders like Digvijaya Singh have been trying to persuade him against doing so. Reddy has now issued a statement that he won’t be resigning.