New Delhi: New Delhi: A decision on the vexed issue of Telangana was deferred on Friday with the Congress announcing that a final call in the matter will be taken by the party Working Committee.
A two-hour-long meeting of the Congress Core Group headed by party Chief Sonia Gandhi with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Rahul Gandhi by her side deliberated deeply on the matter.
The meeting also saw Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Kirankumar Reddy, PCC Chief Botsa Satyanarayana and Deputy Chief Minister Damodar Rajanarasimha giving a presentation on the issue of Telangana. Only on Thursday, AICC General Secretary Digvijay Singh had maintained that a decision cannot be postponed ‘anymore’.
After the meeting, Singh merely said on Friday that the CWC will take a decision. He did not specify when the meeting of the apex policy making body of the party is being called.
"Congress party has held widest consultations with all political parties, with all leaders and finally the Core Group has now met to take a final view.... Now the Congress party shall call the CWC and will take a decision", Singh, who is in charge of party affairs in Andhra Pradesh, told reporters.
While the Chief Minister, who is from Rayalseema region, refused to meet reporters after the core group meeting, the Deputy Chief Minister, who hails from Telangana, struck an optimistic note.
Andhra Pradesh is divided on regional lines on the issue. ‘I am an optimist’, Rajanarasimha said adding that "any major decision of the party is taken by the CWC and that is the standard position of the party". "We are optimistic. We are hopeful. Ultimately any decision is taken by the party. We expect a decision very very soon", the Deputy Chief Minister said but steered clear of questions on the essence of deliberations at the core group. State leaders claimed that a date for the CWC meeting could be announced as early as tomorrow.
Digvijay Singh had on Thursday said that state leaders had been asked a presentation on the political strategy for the Lok Sabha and Assembly polls next year with "both options open" - status quo or creation of a separate state. A central leader on condition of anonymity said that the central leadership gave a patient hearing to the state leaders at Friday's meeting and would now consider the way ahead, hinting thereby that it could take some more time for a decision.
The meeting came amid indications that Congress has decided to spell out a clear stand on the vexed issue of separate statehood soon.
Immediately after the meeting began amid heavy police deployment outside, youths belonging to pro-Telangana and anti-Telangana groups shouted slogans outside 7 Race Course Road. Cops, however, soon swung into action and removed the protestors from the venue.
After the meeting, sources in the party said that two three more meetings would take place before a final view is taken. The Core Group meeting was preceded by a series of meetings during the day.
Sources said that more than half a dozen Lok Sabha MPs from Telangana region held a meeting at the residence of MP Ponnam Prabhakar this morning. The meeting was also attended by ministers from Telangana region in the Reddy-led government in the state.
The MPs Prabhakar, Madhuyakshi Goud, Sukhender Reddy, S. Rajaiah, Suresh Kumar Shetkar and others also held a meeting at the residence of AICC secretary and a senior leader from the region V. Haumantha Rao. They also met AICC general secretary in-charge for the state Digvijay Singh and Gandhi's secretary Ahmed Patel before the Core Group meeting.
Union Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, who was the AICC in-charge of Andhra Pradesh before Digvijay, also attended the Core Group meeting. Finance Minister P Chidambaram, who as Home Minister had on December 9, 2009 announced the starting of the process of formation of the state, is abroad and hence could not attend the meeting.
In the 2004 manifesto, the Congress had not promised anything specifically on Telangana. But subsequently after the elections when it tied up with pro-Telangana TRS to form the government at the Centre, the Common Minimum Programme of the coalition said the UPA government will consider the demand for formation of a Telangana state at an appropriate time after due consultations and consensus. In the 2009 poll manifesto, Congress had said that it will continue to be ‘sensitive to regional aspirations’.
"The Indian National Congress is aware that in some large states, the persistence of intra-regional imbalances in development has given rise to the demand for separate states," it said.
The manifesto said that while Congress has launched a number of special programmes and schemes, recognising the legitimacy of these concerns and acknowledging that "solution may vary from one state to another", the party will find "prgamatic solutions" to deal with these problems.
The issue of separate statehood in the state has virtually bifurcated all parties in Andhra Pradesh on pro and anti Telangana lines. In February 2010, the government appointed a five-member committee headed by Justice Sri Krishna to look into the issue, which came up with six possible solutions to the problem including keeping the state united.