Suspense continues over Andhra Pradesh's future

New Delhi/Hyderabad, July 26: The suspense continues over future of Andhra Pradesh as the Congress core group meeting ended Friday without a decision on statehood to Telangana region.

The core group, which met at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's official residence at 7, Race Course Road, discussed the issue but did not take any decision.

"The consultation process is over. Now you should await the decision of the party and the UPA government," was all Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh told waiting reporters after the meeting Friday evening.

It was also not clear when the Congress Working Committee (CWC) would meet to take a final call on the issue, festering for thne past many years.

After a day of hectic activity and intense speculations, which kept the state on the edge, the Congress core group meeting came out with nothing. Digvijaya Singh, however, added a new dimension by stating that the UPA government will take a decision.

Digvijaya Singh, who is in charge of party affairs in the state, said in the afternoon that the process of consultation is over and the time has come for a decision.

He was talking to reporters after holding separate meetings with Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy, Deputy Chief Minister Damodar Rajanarasimha and state Congress chief Botsa Satyanarayana.

Digvijaya Singh's predecessor Ghulam Nabi Azad, who had dealt with party affairs in Andhra Pradesh, was also present at the meetings.

The two central leaders held detailed discussions with the three state leaders who rushed to the national capital on summons from the party central leadership.

The three state leaders earlier this month submitted their reports to the Congress core group. The leadership is believed to have summoned them again to get certain issues clarified.

Earlier in the day, Congress leaders from Seemandhra (Rayalaseema and Andhra regions) called on the chief minister and urged him to convey to the leadership their strong opposition to the state's division, party sources said.

Seemandhra leaders, who made a beeline to the national capital in a last-ditch attempt to stall a possible decision to carve out Telangana state, held a meeting to chalk out their strategy. The meeting was attended by state and central ministers and Congress MPs from Seemandhra.

S. Sailajanth, the state minister heading the group opposed to state's division, told reporters after the meeting that they were confident the state would remain united. He termed as speculations the talk of a likely decision to carve out Telangana state.

"We have decided to exhaust all options to ensure the state remains united," he said.

Hectic activity in Delhi began amid the continuing resignations of Seemandhra leaders to mount pressure on the central government.

Two Congress legislators Friday submitted their resignations to the assembly speaker. As many as 16 legislators of the YSR Congress party and one of Congress Thursday announced their resignations.

Congress MPs from Telangana also held a meeting at union minister S. Jaipal Reddy's residence in New Delhi to chalk out their strategy to counter the lobbying by their counterparts from Seemandhra.

Telugu television channels aired speculative stories throughout the day. Some reported that the Congress has taken a decision to carve out Telangana state while others said it would be Rayala-Telangana, comprising Rayalaseema and Telangana. There were also reports that Hyderabad will be a union territory for 10 years.

There was mild tension in towns like Anantapur and Kadapa where supporters of united Andhra Pradesh came on to the streets to oppose the state's division. Some traders downed shutters while student groups called for a shutdown of educational institutions on Saturday.

Anticipating violent protests, additional police and central paramilitary forces were deployed in several towns in Seemandhra.


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