A new state and a new-look state Congress kickstarts Telangana process

The Telegraph

New Delhi, July 30: The Congress Working Committee today asked the Centre to take steps to form a Telangana state, clearing the decks for India’s 29th state to be carved out of Andhra Pradesh after four decades of simmering discontent and on-off agitation.

The ruling United Progressive Alliance unanimously approved the proposal an hour before the CWC met.

After the proposal is placed before the Andhra Assembly, whose decision will not be binding on the Centre, the rest of the process can in principle be completed in another 122 days.

This means a Telangana state could come into being early next year and hold its first Assembly elections simultaneously with the Andhra Pradesh and Lok Sabha polls.

Hyderabad will remain the joint capital for 10 years before Andhra develops its own capital, whose site has not been decided.

Digvijaya Singh, Congress general secretary in charge of Andhra Pradesh, said the new state would be called “Telangana” and not “Hyderabad” as some had suggested, and that it would comprise only the 10 districts now considered part of the Telangana region.

He, however, added that a group of ministers could consider the inclusion of more districts if fresh demands were made.

Digvijaya dismissed suggestions for more new states, saying these demands could not be compared with the longstanding call for a Telangana state. “It (the demand) has remained relevant all through these decades and carried the support of the people’s social, economic and political aspirations,” he said.

Nor did the CWC discuss any other statehood appeal, although demands for Gorkhaland, Bodoland and Vidarbha have been voiced.

Aware that a scramble could begin to claim credit for Telangana, the CWC resolution insisted that the Congress had always supported the demand though the decision had “not been easy”.

It betrayed fears of a backlash in coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema, where the Telugu Desam and the YSR Congress are likely to use the state’s division to their advantage.

The Congress is now expected to launch a propaganda blitz. The party, which once feared losing all of Andhra Pradesh’s 42 Lok Sabha seats, is now confident of winning most of the 17 that will fall in Telangana.

Asked about movement spearhead Telangana Rashtra Samiti, Digvijaya said: “TRS leader K. Chandrasekhar Rao has made public statements… that he would merge his party with the Congress once Telangana is created. We… are favourably inclined to consider it.”

The resolution appealed to “all Congressmen and all the Telugu-speaking people and the residents of Andhra Pradesh” to let the new state be born in an atmosphere of “peace and goodwill”.

Security agencies, though, are worried about a possible resurgence of the Maoist threat in both states, especially Telangana.

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