A Deputy Chief Minister from Telangana?
Seeking to buy time, the Congress high command appears to be toying with the idea of having a deputy chief minister and Pradesh Congress Committee chief in Andhra Pradesh from Telangana region amid a growing clamour for a separate state.
A day after 14 party parliamentarians from Telangana region met senior party leaders Pranab Mukherjee and AK Antony, state party sources said that the top leadership was thinking on these lines.
The contention is that since the chief minister is from a non-Telangana region, a deputy chief minister as well as PCC chief from Telangana could have a soothing effect on the agitation for a separate state. Current PCC chief D Srinivas also hails from Telangana but his term has come to an end.
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'There is no question of going back'
With the Congress buffeted by Telangana issue and Y S Jaganmohan Reddy's rebellion, Mukherjee had in the meeting asked the MPs to "co-operate", the sources said.
He assured them that their views will be conveyed to party president Sonia Gandhi.
"Mukherjee also said that he understands our point of view and the government is trying to sort out the issue," they added.
However, the MPs remained firm on their demand. "There is no question of going back. We are not going to rest with anything other than the separate state of Telangana," a senior MP from Telangana region said.
'We are absolutely hopeful. There is no doubt'
In the meeting, the party MPs have submitted a brief memorandum to Mukherjee saying, "We assert in one voice that there is no alternative to separate Telangana.... This is the inalienable demand of the people of Telangana and we resolve to stand by people."
The sources said that Mukherjee wanted to meet the MPs individually but they insisted on coming together "so that no confusion remained among us".
Emerging out of the meeting, Rajya Sabha member and senior party leader from Telengana K Keshava Rao had said, "We are absolutely hopeful. There is not even an iota of doubt."
He was asked if they were hopeful that their demand for separate state would be accepted by the party leadership.
An acid test for Kiran Kumar Reddy
Another party MP P Hanumanta Rao had said, "We want separate Telangana. It is a people's movement."
The meeting had come a day after the former party MP Y S Jaganmohan Reddy organised a one-day fast here, which was attended by two dozen Congress MLAs including a few from Telangana region.
Congress is so far maintaining a wait-and-watch approach on the challenge thrown up by the Srikrishna committee report on Telangana, which has given various options, including keeping the state united as well as formation of a separate Telangana.
The party is banking heavily on newly installed Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy to tackle the situation, giving more than just a hint that it was an "acid test" and if he could prove his leadership, it would be better for him and the party.
Image: Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy