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PM meets ministers a day ahead of Telangana meet

Last updated on: January 04, 2010 21:13 IST

Hectic consultations were held on Monday involving Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his cabinet colleagues on the eve of the all-party conference on Telangana issue on Tuesday as Telangana Rashtra Samithi chief K Chandrasekhar Rao demanded an immediate Parliament law to facilitate formation of a separate state.

Singh discussed the issue with senior colleagues Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Home Minister P Chidambaram, Defence Minister A K Antony and Law Minister Veerappa Moily on the strategy for Tuesday's meeting convened by the home minister. The meeting, expected to devise a mechanism and roadmap to resolve the vexed Telangana issue, will be attended by the Congress, the Telugu Desam Party, the TRS, the Praja Rajyam, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the Communist Party of India, the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen -- the eight registered political parties in Andhra Pradesh.

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister K Rosaiah, who arrived in New Delhi to participate in the meeting, met Chidambaram and followed it up with another meeting with the prime minister.

"I am not here to give any solution. I will attend the meeting as chief minister of Andhra Pradesh," said Rosaiah, who is said to be not very keen on bifurcation.

Rao, the political face of the pro-Telangana agitation, demanded that the Centre should follow up on its promise to create separate Telangana.

"The Government of India has announced its policy on Telangana. It should follow it up with Constitutional process. A resolution should be moved in Parliament," he told reporters after meeting CPI general secretary A B Bardhan.

Chidambaram also met with Governor E S L Narashiman, assembly speaker Kiran Kumar Reddy and Andhra Pradesh Congress Committee chief D Srinivas.

The governor is understood to have briefed Chidambaram on the current situation in the state against the backdrop of the campaign for separate Telangana, which is opposed in the other regions of the state.

Rosaiah said he would represent the state in the meeting and would elicit views of all political parties after which some decision on the issue can be taken.

The Congress refused to divulge its stand at the meeting of political parties scheduled for Tuesday, saying a consensus was the key to resolve the vexed statehood issue.

"We have a view. It will be there in the meeting tomorrowÂ… You have to wait... The object is clear and this was to elicit, understand and absorb whatever view is there from the diverse political parties of the state," party spokesman Abhishek Singhvi told journalists.

Emphasising on consensus to solve the issue, he said, "Consensus was the key. Wait for the outcome of the meeting. It is being held to generate views so that a consensus emerges."

Asked about a timeframe for the creation of a separate state of Telangana, he said, "It will be unrealistic to put a timeframe to the issue.

"This was not the beginning or the end of the process."

Describing the Telangana issue as "important and sensitive", Singhvi said responsible people from the Congress and other parties would be deliberating on it. The spokesman downplayed demands for the constitution of a Second States Reorganisation Commission, saying consensus was important and the meeting would only be on Telangana and no other issue.

Congress, TDP leaders divided

Meanwhile, Congress Members of Parliament from Telangana and coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions met separately and discussed the strategy to be adopted for Tuesday.

Senior party MP K S Rao, who is one of the Congress representatives for the meeting, met his colleagues from the region and elicited their views.

MPs from the region, including Kadapa MP Y S Jaganmohan Reddy, were also present at the meeting. Besides Rao, the Congress will be represented by Huzurnagar Member of Legislative Assembly N Uttam Kumar Reddy, who hails from Telangana.

L Rajagopal, who was the first to resign his Lok Sabha seat, said the meeting should have been held in Hyderabad in order to sort out the vexed issue. He accused some professors of Osmania University, the nerve centre of pro-Telangana agitation, of instigating the students.

The Congress and TDP are virtually divided on regional lines with leaders from Telangana pitching for a separate state and those from coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions wanting a united Andhra Pradesh.

While Rao has made it clear that he will make a strong case for a separate state, PRP chief Chiranjeevi says he will pitch for a united Andhra Pradesh in the meeting.

The Congress and the TDP are already under pressure from their leaders in Telangana and non-Telangana regions to stick to the stand as per the December 9 and December 23 statements respectively.

While the first statement favoured a separate Telangana state, the second one called for wide-ranging consultations on the issue.

Rao said 15 states had been created since Independence and that formation of Telangana would take the same time as other states did.

Asked whether he would set any deadline, Rao said, "People of Telangana have waited for 55 years, we can wait for another 15 days."
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