New Delhi, September 30: The Congress Core Committee met in New Delhi on Friday to deliberate on the delicate Telangana issue on which party leader Ghulam Nabi Azad submitted a report amid indications that a decision on it will take some more time. Amid mounting pressure from pro-Telangana groups whose agitation for a separate state continued for the 18th day on Friday, Congress’ top brass, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and party chief Sonia Gandhi, met in Delhi.
This was the first core group meeting attended by Gandhi after her return earlier this month from the United States where she underwent a surgery for an unspecified ailment.
Party sources said that a decision will take some more time as more consultations are necessary on the issue. The meeting took place within hours of All India Congress Committee General Secretary Azad presenting a report to Gandhi on the Telangana issue prepared after consultations with party MLAs and MPs from Andhra Pradesh.
Azad was among the special invitees at the core group meeting which has Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Home Minister P Chidambaram, Defence Minister A K Antony and Ahmed Patel, political secretary to Gandhi, as members. Earlier, Chidambaram said that more time was needed. “He (Azad) has told them (MLAs and MPs) that allow a little time for the party to take a decision and the government to take a decision,” the home minister said.
Congress is caught in a tricky situation in Andhra Pradesh with the Telangana region observing an indefinite bandh over the issue of separate statehood, a demand being opposed by coastal Andhra and Rayalseema regions of the state.
Party leaders from Telangana are camping in Delhi for the last few days to press for the demand of separate statehood. Telangana Rashtra Samithi chief K Chandrashekhar Rao, spearheading the agitation, is expected to meet Mukherjee in Delhi on Saturday. Rao and a delegation of Telangana political Joint Action Committee were headed for Delhi to press for an early decision in favour of the separate statehood for Telangana.
The delegation would meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other important leaders including Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj, Rao told reporters in Hyderabad. Meanwhile, normal life was disrupted due to the day-long Hyderabad bandh called by the Telangana Political Joint Action Committee as part of their ongoing agitation for a separate state. Shops, business establishments were closed at many places in the city. Schools and other education institutions have already declared holidays for the Dusshera festival.
With pro-Telangana employees of Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) already participating in the ‘Sakala Janula Samme'(strike by all sections of people), RTC buses remained off the roads.
The Andhra Pradesh government announced that it will not pay salaries to employees and teachers from Telangana region who have been taking part in the strike for the past 18 days. The government had constituted a high-level Committee headed by former Supreme Court judge B N Srikrishna to go into the issue. The Congress high command had in July asked Azad to hold consultations with leaders from Telangana, Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra regions on the issue and elicit their views.
Azad has been receiving delegations of ministers, MPs and MLAs from all the three regions since July and concluded the process on Wednesday.
Asked about the Telangana issue, Chidambaram said four political parties of Andhra Pradesh have not taken their decision on the issue and in the top of the list was the Congress party. “Telugu Desam Party and Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen are waiting to see what Congress party’s decision will be. The other party the YSR Congress has not indicated its mind either.