|Protesters pelt police with stones in Hyderabad on Monday. (AFP)
New Delhi, Jan. 28: The Congress leadership appears confused about what decision to take on Telangana, with even the senior leaders and ministers handling the matter harbouring divergent views after months of discussions, dithering and delay.
Many in the party feel the central leaders mishandled the issue from the beginning; others accuse “vested interests” from Andhra Pradesh of having misled the high command.
Some sources claimed that Sonia Gandhi was never given the “true picture”, whether on the Telangana movement, Jaganmohan Reddy’s plans, the people’s sentiments or the machinations of certain influential leaders.
“Even now, when the balance has decisively tilted in favour of (statehood for) Telangana, political ploys have been used to delay the decision. We hope Sonia and Rahul see through the games being played,” an angry Congress leader from Telangana told The Telegraph.
If the strong views on both sides is one factor tying the hands of the Centre, another is the fear that formation of a Telangana state would ignite statehood demands across the country.
Sources said the Prime Minister appreciated these apprehensions and did not relish the prospect of facing fresh problems in the last leg of his tenure.
While the advocates of Gorkhaland in Bengal and Bodoland in Assam are doubtless biding their time, Manmohan Singh is said to have received statehood demands from various other quarters, particularly some tribals of Assam and Andhra Pradesh.
There has been speculation that grant of statehood to Telangana may affect the peace process in Nagaland and encourage calls for the division of Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra.
Still, some in the Congress believe that Andhra Pradesh will have to be divided sooner than later.
“We know how sensitive this issue is, but a decision will come about before the budget session of Parliament and the decision will be in favour of a Telangana (state),” a senior leader told this newspaper today.
“The Congress will otherwise be destroyed in Andhra Pradesh,” he added.
But another party lobby argues that granting statehood to Telangana now would amount to “cutting off the head to cure a headache”.
A majority in the Congress believes that two mistakes by the central leadership — the December 2009 announcement about beginning the statehood process and the selection of Kiran Kumar Reddy as chief minister — have brought the crisis to such a boil.
Some of them even argue that changing the chief minister and creating an autonomous council would be the best solution.
But others say that the creation of a Telangana state and an alliance with the Telangana Rashtra Samithi would help the Congress salvage some ground in the region even if Jagan’s party sweeps (the residual) Andhra Pradesh.