M A I N   N E W S

Congress slows down as AP revolt rages
Won’t rush into things, PM assures non-Telangana MPs
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 11
The Telangana dream appears to be over even before the break of dawn. Smartly playing the “consensus card”, the Congress has tossed the ball towards the state after reality sank in that many were not in favour of a separate Telangana and the issue was becoming too hot to handle as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today assured the MPs from coastal Andhra and Rayasaleema regions that “nothing will be done in haste”.

MPs from the two regions met the Prime Minister, apparently with an SOS call: “We are not in a position to go back to our region... the government must make a statement”. After the meeting, senior Congress leader KS Rao said the PM had assured them that “nothing will be done in haste” on creation of a separate state.

Home Secretary GK Pillai, who waded into a major political controversy by saying that Hyderabad would be the capital of the proposed Telangana state, was also forced to beat a hasty retreat by the Congress-led UPA government.

Pillai’s remarks were vehemently criticised by political leaders from coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema, forcing him to issue a clarification in the evening that said that he did not state that Hyderabad would be the capital of Telangana. Fuming over Pillai's remarks, Congress MP KS Rao said: “We go by what Prime Minister (Manmohan Singh), Congress president Sonia Gandhi says and not by Pillai, Superintendent of Police or a clerk...Let the Home Secretary give separate Telangana, if he is capable”.

With “consensus” and “unanimity” becoming the buzzwords for the party, the Congress has already specified that there has to be complete consensus on the Telangana issue.

“The Congress lacks consensus and is now all set to drag its feet on the issue. The strategy is to put Telangana on hold by playing the consensus card and then make sure that the consensus doesn’t happen,” political observers say.

Looking for damage control after its MLAs resigned en masse and caught between pro and anti-Telangana camps, the Congress is now trying to buy time on its decision to carve out Telangana. Echoing the thoughts of Andhra and Rayalseema MPs opposing Telangana, Minister of State for Defence MM Pallam Raju said people of Andhra Pradesh wanted a united state.

“We have apprised the Prime Minister of sentiments of people of Rayalseema and Andhra region who want a united AP. We believe that the decision taken by the Centre was after an all-party meeting which had indicated that they would support a resolution on Telangana. But resignations cutting across party lines have shown there is no support for Telangana,” he said.

The MPs also met Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Home Minister P Chidambaram, who apparently told them to maintain their cool. Later, defending the Home Minister’s statement on the issue, Rao said it was “nothing new” and a reiteration of the old stand of the Congress and the Centre. “He (Chidambaram) only said that the process will be started by asking the AP Assembly to move a resolution,” he said.



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