Sonia Gandhi to take a call on Telangana soon

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New Delhi, Jan 24: Congress president Sonia Gandhi is likely to take a call on the statehood of Telangana within a couple of days, putting an end to a continuing dilemma in the party on the question of creating smaller states, top sources said on Wednesday.

Gandhi on Wednesday evening held close-door talks with senior leaders like the country's Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, her political advisory Ahmed Patel, Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and Overseas Affairs Minister Vyalar Ravi. A second round of talks was scheduled for Thursday following the return of Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram from abroad, it was learnt. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and party vice-president Rahul Gandhi will also attend the talks.

Shinde had said in December that the Centre would take a decision on the issue within 30 days and the deadline is set to end on Jan 28, which is also the day when the defence minister is scheduled to visit Dhaka.

Sources said the government might take more time in taking up the issue for it would be preoccupied with the Republic Day celebrations this weekend. Azad, who is also the AICC Andhra Pradesh-in-charge, had already suggested that there might be some delay before the party actually clarifies its stand on the issue.

The Congress is faced with a big political challenge in Andhra Pradesh and face an uphill task in repeating its good electoral performance of 2004 and 2009 in the state, if it rejects the demand for Telangana. Agreeing to the demand could, on the other hand, alienate the non-Telangana regions.

Meanwhile, the pro-Telangana outfits on Wednesday called for a shutdown on Thursday and protested in Hyderabad after Azad suggested that the final call on Telangana might be delayed. The Telangana Joint Action Committee and Telangana Rashtra Samiti leaders condemned Azad's statement and announced the shutdown.

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