Hyderabad, July 7: The Congress high command on Wednesday sent Telangana MPs home with yet more promises of talks, consultations, dialogue — and a decision soon on the separate state question. The only specific indication of the day came from Union Home Minister P Chidambaram, who ruled out President’s rule in AP.
The leadership called yet another emergency sitting of the party’s core group at the residence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh this evening to hear views round the table. Ghulam Nabi Azad, the party’s pointman in Andhra Pradesh, presented a situation report in AP and proceeded to suggest that a committee of four be drafted to begin consultations with various stakeholders to the question. This committee, he suggested, will meet with representatives of parties from all three regions of Andhra Pradesh and weigh all issues, primarily the status of Hyderabad in the future scenario.
After the meeting, Sonia Gandhi’s media shy political secretary Ahmed Patel broke his usual reticence to talk to reporters. “Yes, we discussed Telangana. Mr Azad explained the situation. We are thinking what we should do,” was all he said, however. Disappointed by the lack of a concrete assurance, party leaders from Telangana got on the plane to Hyderabad, insisting they have not been sent home with mere talk.
There were signs of irritation in Congress high circles that this band of MLAs and MPs from Telangana had brought upon the party such pressure at this juncture. Chidambaram dismissed the notion of President’s rule and said, “The status as of today is that consultations are still continuing. No decision has been taken yet. We hope the process of consultations will show us the path to reach a conclusion.”
Among the leaders met by the Telangana band was Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee. They met him for a brief while late Tuesday night. He is understood to have laid out an elaborate road map: first, consensus among Congressmen from all the regions of the state; second, talks with other political parties in the state; third a national consensus on the question of a small state. Then the Decision. Accounts of the meeting with Mukherjee had it that he was curt and angry with the quitters and did not even ask them to sit down. The Finance Minister also cut short their interventions and asked them what sort of talks can he hold with them now since they have all resigned. “After you resigned, the issue is neither with me nor with you,” one MP said quoting Mukherjee.
This MP, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Mukherjee did admit that the Centre had delayed reacting to the issue but at any rate a solution would not be forthcoming anytime soon. After the meeting with Mukherjee, the MPs and ministers left without even speaking to media persons. K Jana Reddy and B Saraiah returned to Hyderabad Wednesday evening while MPs and Ponnala may return Thursday.