UPA group seeks larger Telangana

UPA group seeks larger Telangana

A section of the United Progressive Alliance government has suggested merging two Rayalaseema districts—Anantapur and Kurnool—with the proposed Telangana state, evoking strong reactions from leaders in Andhra Pradesh.

The Rayala-Telangana proposal had initially gained currency in the run-up to the July 30 Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting. Its revival, at a time when the state is divided over the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, may further delay the process of creation of Telangana set in motion by the Centre on October 3, when it formed a Group of Ministers (GoM) on the issue.

The Rayala-Telangana idea was reportedly discussed last week when Andhra Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Damodar Rajanarasimha had discussions with the Central leadership and later with the Congress Core Group, including party chief Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Congress sources said a section of leaders from the Seemandhra region, who are keen to have a toehold in Hyderabad, are lobbying for a merger of the two Rayalaseema districts with Telangana.

However, no sooner was the proposal renewed than it was strongly opposed by leaders from the Telangana region. “In principle, I am not comfortable with the proposal. When this has not been mentioned in the earlier phases, it is not correct to bring it at such a later stage,” Science and Technology Minister S Jaipal Reddy told reporters at a late night press conference here.

He made it clear that the proposal for Rayala-Telangana was neither mentioned in the CWC resolution on Telangana nor in the Cabinet note on the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh. “This was never accepted nor discussed at any stage. At no stage did we welcome it,” said Reddy, who is considered as a contender for the chief minister’s post for the proposed Telangana.

The present idea of Telangana includes 10 districts comprising 17 Lok Sabha constituencies and 119 Assembly segments. By merging two of the four districts from the Rayalaseema region, the Congress aims at limiting the influence of the YSR Congress, led by Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy.

However, the proposal is expected to evoke stiff opposition from the Bharatiya Janata Party, which has been maintaining that the Centre should address the concerns raised by people of Seemandhra before going ahead with the bifurcation of the state.

Besides a section of Congress leaders from Seemandhra, only the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen led by Asaduddin Owaisi may favour the proposal.

Senior leader from Telangana D Srinivas met Defence Minister and GoM member A K Antony and other leaders and is said to have opposed the revived idea.

Meanwhile, the Telangana bill has not been listed on the Parliament agenda for the Winter Session which begins on Thursday. Congress leaders said that this could be because the GoM was yet to finalise its recommendations on the bifurcation of the state which have to be approved by the Union Cabinet. The GoM, chaired by Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, is expected to meet on Tuesday to finalise its recommendations.

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