Major parties in a quandary over Telangana issue

Even as countdown has begun for the all-party meeting on the Telangana issue to be held in Delhi on December 28,  major political parties in Andhra Pradesh still remain confused over their stand.

The politically sensitive issue, which involves the long-pending demand for carving out 10 districts of Andhra Pradesh to create a separate state of Telangana, has brought about a division among the main parties. The ruling Congress, the opposition Telugu Desam Party and the Y S R Congress Party, headed by jailed MP Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy, have been unable to formulate a clear policy on Telangana owing to internal rift on regional lines.

While leaders from the Telangana region, cutting across party lines, are for a separate state their counterparts from Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra oppose bifurcation of the state.

Given the regional divide within the major parties, even  die-hard optimists are not hopeful of any breakthrough at the meeting convened by Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde. Moreover, the Ministry has invited two representatives from each party, thus providing room for the delegates from same party to differ at the meet to satisfy the respective regional compulsions.

Political observers said the meeting may as well end up as a damp squib similar to the two rounds of all-party meetings held in 2010 and 2011. While differences between and within Congress and the TDP – which had two representatives each – spoiled the first meeting, the second round ended before it began after major parties boycotted it, bringing the Telangana issue back to square one.

Five political parties, which have a clear stand on the issue, announced the names of their representatives who will participate in the meeting. The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), BJP and CPI are rooting for a separate state while CPM and Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM), which have pockets of influence in Hyderabad, are opposed to the state's division.

“This is the last chance for the Congress to prove its sincerity to the Telangana cause. Without any further delay, it should spell out its stand at the meeting. Otherwise, the Telangana people will teach a lesson to the ruling party,” TRS legislator T Harish Rao said.

The TDP and the YSRCP have put the onus on the Congress. However, state Congress president Botsa Satyanarayana said, “We will take a stand after hearing other parties.”

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