Politicians in Telangana were left in a state of confusion when the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) president K. Chandrasekhara Rao (KCR) left for Delhi two days before the monsoon session ended. KCR’s béte noire, the BJP, said that his interest behind the Delhi trip was not the parliamentary session, but to collect his salary. However, KCR’s decision to stay back in Delhi added fuel to fire, making many assume that there was something happening on the Telangana front.
KCR could not meet the UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi due to her ill health, but it is rumoured that she appointed a 4-member committee comprising of Oscar Fernandes, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Vayalar Ravi and A.K. Antony—all of them loyal to her.
Though pro-Telangana groups were happy about Sushil Kumar Shinde taking up Home Affairs, it added more confusion to the already complicated state of affairs. It was P. Chidambaram who had on December 9, 2009, announced that the government was thinking about a separate state. He then retracted the statement creating a lot of heartburn among Telengana supporters. The four political parties—BJP, TRS, CPI, CPI(M)—had already taken a stand on the Telangana issue, but the remaining four—Congress, TDP, MIM and YSR Congress—were yet to make their stands clear. Chidambaram had been ready to call for an all-party meeting after getting opinions from all the parties.
Meanwhile, Shinde said that Telangana would take a long time, one of the factors being the presence of Naxalites, which was a deterrent to the formation of the new state. As he had just taken over the Home ministry, he asked for some more time to study the issue. Shinde had said that he would take the opinion of senior officials and check the recommendations of the Sri Krishna Committee, which apparently has a detailed intelligence report on Naxal penetration in the region. It is said that there is a fear that Maoist operations might resume if Telangana is formed.
KCR has started making his political moves, expressing willingness of his party to merge with the Congress if Telangana is formed. However, it is a fact that the TRS has no other option but to merge, which will benefit both the parties. For the Congress this would assure them of winning some seats in the Telangana region and for the TRS, such a move would make them stronger in other parts of Andhra Pradesh.
Meanwhile, all Pro-Telangana parties including the Telangana Joint Action Committee (T-JAC) have given an ultimatum to the Centre, with September 30 as the deadline, failing which they “will be forced to use violent methods”.
Though Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy’s position seems to be safe at present, there are strong rumours there would be a replacement for both the posts—the CM and the PCC president.
Knowing that Sonia Gandhi does not support formation of smaller states, the UPA government might use ‘pressures from the allies’ as an excuse to not to allow a separate state, thus leaving it open for the 2014 elections. This move might lead to pro-Telangana supporters resorting to violence.
Both the BJP and the TDP are taking advantage of the situation. The BJP defended itself saying that it had formed three separate states, but could not form Telangana, because of the tie-up it had with Chandrababu Naidu (who had been for a united Andhra). The BJP has assured the formation of Telangana if they are brought back to power. The state unit of BJP has also chalked out a series of programmes on the Telangana front.
TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu, having announced his pada yatra, is in ‘now or never’ mode as this would be the last chance for him to come back to power. Meanwhile, his party members from coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema have demanded that Naidu should come out of the party if he is pro-Telangana. Having said that the TDP has a strong cadre base in Telangana, the pro-Telangana letter to the Centre (clarifying the party’s stand) might win him the required seats in this region.