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Centre tilts away from Telangana

New Delhi, Oct. 10: The Centre has almost made up its mind not to create a Telangana state at this stage although a section of the Congress, worried about the party’s fortunes in the next general election, favours immediate division of Andhra Pradesh.

Sources in the party said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, former home minister P. Chidambaram, who had extensively dealt with the subject before being moved to finance, governor E.S.L. Narasimhan and many other “powerful players” were strongly opposed to the creation of Telangana.

The opponents also include Congress ally Asaduddin Owaisi of the MIM and some influential Congress MPs from other Andhra regions.

Some of these leaders are analysing the situation purely from an administrative perspective, concerned about possible eruption of statehood demands in Vidarbha, Gorkhaland, Bodoland and other parts of the country, in addition to a higher level of Maoist influence in Telangana itself.

Others are worried about Hyderabad, a major bone of contention.

The sources said all the stakeholders had given Congress chief Sonia Gandhi a comprehensive briefing recently and the anti-Telangana view appeared to be dominating the discourse.

But some leaders who have been making a comprehensive political analysis, particularly in the context of the Congress’s plight after the demise of Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy and his son Jaganmohan’s rebellion, told Sonia that creation of Telangana was the best option in these circumstances.

As the impression gained ground that the government would declare a financial package for the region and reject the possibility of an immediate division of the state, some leaders called on Sonia and Rahul Gandhi to explain the political fallout of such a decision.

This group is convinced that the Congress cannot return to power at the Centre without a significant number of MPs from Andhra and the denial of Telangana will mean a rout for the party.

This section, which has the support of party general secretary Ghulam Nabi Azad, wants Telangana to be announced on the condition that the TRS, the spearhead of the movement, merge — or at least have a tacit understanding — with the Congress. This would ensure at least 20 more MPs in the UPA kitty.

The Congress has 33 MPs from the state at present.

Although Sonia and Rahul are still grappling to harmonise the two contradictory positions, sources in the government ruled out an immediate division of the state.

Home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde is expected to call an all-party meeting soon for further consultations. His emphasis may be on the formula suggested by the Srikrishna Commission, which stressed on the socio-economic development of the backward Telangana region as a first step.

The Congress high command has asked its Andhra unit chief Botsa Satyanarayana to prepare a comprehensive note, including the diverse opinions among party leaders and the masses.

Despite the vertical split in the party on this issue, both sides agree that a clear message needs to be sent to the state, where the prevailing uncertainty has hobbled governance.

The Congress leadership intends to bring that clarity sooner than later.