Congress does volte face on SRC issue

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New Delhi, Jan 16 (UNI) Taking a "U" turn on its stand on the States Reorganisation Commission (SRC) issue, the Congress today said there was no need for constitution of a second SRC to look into the demands for smaller states, including Telangana, Vidarbha and Bundelkhand.

"We are not averse to SRC. But no SRC is required for creation of a new state. No SRC is required in law and practice. At the moment, there is no government proposal for the same. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had already issued a clarification on board his special aircraft last night during his return from China," AICC Spokesman Abishek Manu Singhvi told mediapersons.

When his attention was drawn to a resolution of the Congress Working Committee in 2002 favouring constitution of a Second SRC, he said : ''It was an old resolution. The government had not acted upon it. It is for the government to decide." He refused to reply to a question on how the Congress could go back on its promise of setting up a second SRC to look into the demand for a separate Telangana state in Andhra Pradesh. A reporter pointed out earlier that the state Congress in Andhra Pradesh, in its election manifesto, had promised a second SRC to look into the Telangana issue.

Senior Party leaders, however, confirmed that the party was not in favour of a second SRC because of the fear that it would open up the pandora's box with more demands for smaller states coming up.

While supporting the demand for carving out Bundelkhand from Uttar Pradesh, he said separate state of Bundelkhand was a demand which was older than that relating to many smaller states already created.

Moreover, the demand had already been supported by the ruling Bahujan Samaj Party and the Congress. "It is possible that the Samajwadi Party will not say no." In this context, Dr Singhvi said "Telangana is a stand alone case.

When the Telangana issue was raised, the ruling UPA had constituted a committee headed by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee to evolve consensus among the UPA partners on the issue. The issue is now under the active consideration of the committee which has not pronounced its decision yet." Maintaining that the Congress supported in general the demand for smaller and more economically viable states, he said a decision on each and everyone of them should be taken on the basis of merits, preceded by broad consensus among the political parties.

To repeated questions on SRC, Dr Singhvi said setting up of a SRC was not a pre-condition for creation of a new state. "This need not necessarily mean that the SRC will never be set up." However, what was required for the creation of a new state was a broad spectrum of political support for the proposal.

Asked to comment on Home Minister Shivraj Patil's statement that the Centre was looking into the demand of minorities for reservation in educational institutions and government services, Dr Singhvi said any issue of reservation had to be in consistent with the provisions of the Constitution.

"Such issues also need wider discussion and consultation." UNI SH KD RS1848

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