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Centre pledges Telengana starter
Rao in a Hyderabad hospital on Wednesday. (PTI)

Dec. 9: The Centre tonight promised to initiate the “process of forming” a Telengana state and announced that a resolution would be passed in the Andhra Pradesh Assembly, prompting statehood spearhead K. Chandrasekhar Rao to call off his fast.

The late-night announcement capped a day of hectic activities intended at persuading Rao to end the fast that had triggered a backlash and prompted fears of a wider conflagration.

Although home minister P. Chidambaram, who made the announcement in Delhi, did not specify the date of the resolution, sources said it would be tabled tomorrow.

Andhra chief minister K. Rosaiah, who had reached Delhi this afternoon to discuss the volatile situation in the state, was sent back by a special flight in the night after the Congress core committee took the decision at its third meeting. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi – her birthday fell on Wednesday — held talks with the Andhra chief minister.

The sources said the chief minister was strongly opposed to the idea of moving a resolution in the Assembly, arguing that the step would create unrest in the whole state, but the core committee forced him to accept the proposal.

Chidambaram chose his words carefully without committing on any time frame. “After these consultations, I am making this statement. The process of forming the state of Telengana will be initiated. An appropriate resolution will be moved in the state Assembly,” he said.

After breaking his fast, Rao said in reply to a question on his health: “Everyone considers me a lucky person. I was confident that victory will be mine, though I had some anxious moments this evening.”

The Telengana region covers 10 of Andhra’s 23 districts, including Hyderabad. The other districts are Warangal, Rangareddy, Medak, Nalgonda, Khammam, Nizamabad, Karimnagar, Adilabad and Mehboobnagar. The region also accounts for 17 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in the state.

A resolution in the Assembly is the first step towards the formation of a separate state. A bill will then have to be passed in Parliament by two-thirds majority. If Telengana is eventually formed, it will be the 29th full-fledged state in the country.

The resolution should not find too many opponents in Parliament but there is no commitment yet from the Centre on when it plans to move the legislation. Little prevents the Centre from sitting on the Assembly resolution.

Amid jubilation, Rao’s son betrayed such a fear. “The real effort is to bring a bill in Parliament,” K.T. Rama Rao said.

Rama Rao said Telengana without the inclusion of Hyderabad would not be accepted, opposing a demand to declare the city a Union territory.

The Telengana demand has been in existence for almost five decades. In 1969, 300 people lost their lives in an agitation. According to Telengana leaders, over 40 people committed suicide in the latest wave of protests.

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