Will the Congress bite the bullet on Telangana?
Almost a year after violent protests over demands for a Telangana state carved out of Andhra Pradesh, the Indian government has to grapple with the issue once again.
A report by a panel set up to examine the issue and suggest options to deal with the decades-old demand was made public on Thursday.
Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram, while releasing the B. N. Srikrishna report, urged an impartial consideration of its contents.
But the ball remains in the Congress party’s court — being in power both at the centre and Andhra Pradesh.
The report has suggested a number of options, none of which may please all.
Chidambaram has also proposed another meeting of political parties this month.
That the meeting may throw up a solution acceptable to all may be the triumph of hope over experience.
Even if a solution is proposed, it is the central government that will have to summon the will to exercise it — a course of action which politically the govt may best like to be deferred.
Especially since the party which swept Andhra Pradesh in the 2009 general election seems to have gone downhill since the death of its charismatic state leader Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy and a subsequent rebellion by his son.
The state sends 42 MPs to parliament and given the hammering the Congress received in the Bihar elections, hopes of forming the next government at the centre depend on retaining its popularity in existing bases.
It has been reported the Congress in Andhra Pradesh is divided on the question of Telangana along regional lines.
If a state is carved out, the Telangana Rashtra Samiti which has headed the movement for a separate Telangana may benefit. If the government stalls, it is likely to lose support in the region.
The Indian Express reported how ‘weeping MPs’ held Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s feet begging him to create Telangana else they would “either quit the party or commit suicide”.
On the other hand, if the Congress concedes the demand, other parts of the state may be alienated. Political formations like Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy’s new party are waiting to grab the opportunity.
The government seems stuck between a rock and a hard place. Will the Srikrishna report help rescue it? Share your views.