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Congress jittery over Telangana on Naxal concerns

February 12, 2010 02:28 IST

Though the terms of reference of the committee to look into the creation of a Telangana state may come in the next few days, the Congress is worried about the 'political' price it may have to pay for moving too fast on the statehood issue.

Latest intelligence inputs suggesting that the outlawed Naxals will be the sole beneficiaries in a bifurcated Andhra Pradesh has made the Congress leadership jittery. The Telangana issue was discussed in detail at the special meeting of the party's core committee held Wednesday night. A key member of the committee later told Business Standard: "Many in the party feel it would be suicidal to form a separate state of Telangana."

At the meeting, Home Minister P Chidambaram presented a draft Terms of Reference (ToR), but the committee felt there was scope for "better" ToR for the committee on Telangana as it is a very sensitive issue.

The brass decided to hold another meeting before announcing the ToR. On February 3, the United Progressive Alliance government had announced the formation of a committee headed by former Supreme Court judge B N Srikrishna to look into the issue of Telangana.

According to a key member of the core committee, the latest assessment of the ground situation in Andhra Pradesh shows that the strength of regional outfits like Praja Rajyam Party and Telugu Desam Party will shrink considerably and the Congress, too, will lose ground.

And, this political vacuum will be filled by parties floated by Maoist outfits. The intelligence agencies have already warned the Centre that Maoists are planning to launch political parties to take advantage of the fluid situation in Andhra Pradesh.

The concern of the coalition leader was evident at the announcement of the Srikrishna committee. Delicately balancing itself between strong pressures in favour of a separate Telangana and a unified Andhra Pradesh, the home ministry's announcement simply said: "The central government has constituted the following committee to hold wide-ranging consultations with all sections of the people and all political parties and groups in Andhra Pradesh."

Headed by retired Supreme Court judge B N Srikrishna, the five-member committee has Ranbir Singh (vice-chancellor, National Law University), Abusaleh Shariff (senior research fellow, International Food Policy Research Institute) and Ravinder Kaur, (professor, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Delhi), while former Union home secretary V K Duggal will be member-secretary.

Several top Congress leaders also point out that former Andhra Pradesh chief minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy vehemently opposed a separate Telangana, but managed to retain power at the state and get as many as 33 MPs from Andhra Pradesh that helped the Congress cross the 200-mark in the Lok Sabha.

Saubhadra Chatterji