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Pillai's Hyderabad gaffe leaves Congress fuming

By From our correspondent
December 11, 2009 19:39 IST
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Union Home Secretary G K Pillai's off-the-cuff statement on Friday -- about Hyderabad being the capital of Telangana after its formation -- has triggered a political thunderstorm in New Delhi.

"Hyderabad, I think, will always be the capital of Telangana," Pillai had told journalists during a visit to Jammu, but he hastily retracted his statement on Friday evening, after it attracted the wrath of senior Congress leaders as well as Home Minister P Chidambaram.

Member of Parliament from coastal Andhra and Rayalseema, who have strongly protested against the Centre's decision to create Telangana and have been meeting the party's top brass to plead their case, were left aghast by Pillai's statement.

"Who is GK Pillai to say this? Does he know the politics of Andhra Pradesh? Does he know the geography and history of Andhra? I cannot react to a clerk or deputy superintendent of police-rank officer talking about the capital," infuriated Andhra MP KS Rao told

The statement is being seen as premature in Delhi's political circles, as several members of the cabinet told this correspondent that there was little hope about the 'immediate formation of Telangana'.

The home secretary's comment has irked the prime minister's office as well as Home Minister P Chidambaram, as the government already has enough Telangana-related issues on its platter to deal with.

According to sources, the PMO on Friday morning had instructed Pillai to initiate the process of formation of Telangana, and he inadvertently spilled the beans later in the day.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday met a delegation of Congress MPs from non-Telangana regions of Andhra Pradesh and assured them that no hasty decisions will be taken while carving out a new state from Andhra Pradesh.

Describing the situation as 'very, very serious', Rao said Congress legislators were finding it difficult to go back to their constituencies and face the voters, because of the "sentiments of the people for a unified Andhra Pradesh".

Criticising Telangana Rashtra Samiti chief K Chandrasekhar Rao, whose 11-day fast forced the government to take a final decision on the matter, the Congress MP claimed that he had lost the support of the people.

Rao also indicated that Maoists and anti-social elements, amongst others, could be behind the move for the creation of a separate state.

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From our correspondent In New Delhi