New Delhi, Jan. 31: The Congress today warned its Andhra leaders not to do anything that could precipitate a crisis, issuing an unusual written gag order as the party braced for strong reactions from either side of the Telangana divide.
The central leadership also threatened disciplinary action against those who flouted the high commands directive.
Law minister M. Veerappa Moily issued a statement asking party leaders not to rush to the press on a sensitive issue like this to precipitate matters and disrupt normality (that had been) restored after the discussions held with all political parties and leaders on January 6.
Moily, the central leader in charge of Andhra Pradesh, added that any violation of the party discipline will be seriously dealt with.
A written warning is unusual in the Congress but the high command didnt appear to have many options left as all efforts to persuade Andhra leaders not to join protests for or against a Telangana state had proved futile so far.
Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, along with party veterans Pranab Mukherjee, P. Chidambaram and Ahmed Patel, has repeatedly asked Andhra leaders to desist from public posturing and let the central leadership resolve the crisis.
Only last week, Sonia had reprimanded state unit chief D. Srinivas and directed him to withdraw Congress leaders from the Telangana Joint Action Committee (JAC).
Although Congress leaders said they would walk out of the committee, they have still not done so. Even todays statement by Moily said the Congress leaders should withdraw themselves from the JAC.
The Centre fears that the JAC, dominated by Telan- gana spearhead K. Chandrasekhar Raos TRS, will begin a fresh agitation by declaring that the committee was nothing but a delaying tactic.
The Telugu Desam Party, the other important member of the JAC, is also in favour of precipitating a constitutional crisis by pushing for en-masse resignation of legislators.
Congress legislators who had earlier supported the resignation drive are now reluctant after Sonia clearly told them there was a distinct possibility that the state could be brought under Presidents rule.
Some party MPs who refused to take back their resignations earlier have been persuaded to withdraw them. Sources said the stick of disciplinary action is now being wielded to prevent a fresh bout of resignations.
The sources said the Congress leadership was working on a plan to reduce chances of a violent agitation by giving out a clear signal that the government was moving forward on setting up a panel to look into all issues and every stakeholder should hold their horses.
Moilys statement said the Centre was seized of the matter on the formation of a committee or mechanism to look into all issues and concerns of all regions in Andhra. The terms of reference are under preparation and not yet finalised, he said.
Chidambaram has already announced that the committee, probably headed by a retired Supreme Court judge, will be announced next week.
The home minister will hold a news conference tomorrow afternoon and, sources said, the scene will become clearer after that.