New Delhi: Creation of a Telangana state on Friday night appeared to be a real possibility after the top Congress leadership held prolonged deliberations on the contentious issue.
A call may be taken after the conclusion of the local bodies elections in Andhra Pradesh on July 31 and the final decision will be left to be formalized by Congress' highest decision-making body the Working Committee in the first week of August, highly-placed sources said.
The day was marked by hectic consultations between senior Congress leaders Digvijay Singh and Ghulam Nabi Azad, the present and former General Secretaries incharge of party affairs in Anhdra Pradesh, with Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy, PCC chief Botsa Satyanarayana and Deputy Chief Minister Damodar Rajnarsimha separately.
This was followed by the Congress Core Group meeting, chaired by Sonia Gandhi and attended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and key cabinet ministers including Sushilkumar Shinde, P Chidambaram and A K Antony.
"The consultation process is over. Now wait for the decision of the party as well as the UPA government," AICC General Secretary in-charge of Andhra Pradesh, Digvijay Singh, told reporters after the Core Group meeting.
Earlier in the day, Digvijay Singh had said the process of consultation is over and the time for a decision has come.
During today's consultations, the Chief Minister was said to have been opposed to the division of the state.
The party and the UPA government have to take a decision whether to create Telangana with only 10 districts falling under the region or have Kurnool and Ananthapur districts from Rayalseema to be included. If those two districts are added, then the new state could be named as RayalaTelangana, a proposal the people of Telangana would stoutly oppose.
Sources said the UPA government may also like to consult its allies before bringing a bill in the monsoon session of parliament.
Main opposition BJP is strongly backing the demand for the creation of Telangana.
The bill needs only a vote by simple majority for passage in parliament.
Agitation held for united AP
Agitations were held on Friday at several places in Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra regions in support an united Andhra Pradesh.
Students, employees and other sections organised rallies, and sit-ins, opposing any move to divide the state.
Congress MLAs from Nellore district Sridhara Krishna Reddy and A Prabhakar Reddy have announced their resignations in support of the united Andhra Pradesh.
Earlier in the day in Delhi, Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh, who is also in-charge of party affairs in AP, announced that the process of consultations on the Telangana issue is over.
Hectic political activity was witnessed in the national capital as leaders from Rayalaseema, coastal Andhra and Telangana regions camped in the metropolis to pursue their demand with the Congress leadership.
Consultations over, time to take decision, Digvijay says
The process of consultation over the Telangana issue is over and the time has come for a decision, Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh said on Friday.
"We shall let you know the decision taken," he said in New Delhi amid hectic activity of the party leadership to take a final decision on the issue of separate statehood to Telangana.
Digvijay Singh, in-charge of party affairs in Andhra Pradesh, 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.
Digvijay Singh's predecessor Ghulam Nabi Azad was also present at the meetings that assumed significance ahead of the Congress core group meeting on Friday evening.
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.
Kiran Kumar Reddy and Botsa Satyanarayana, in their separate reports, are understood to have opposed any move to divide the state while Damodar Rajanarasimha, who is from Telangana, backed the statehood demand.
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 has began amid the continuing resignations of Seemandhra leaders to mount pressure on the central government.
Two more Congress MLAs want to quit
A day after 16 YSR Congress MLAs and one from Congress announced resignations in support of united Andhra Pradesh, two more ruling party legislators from non-Telangana regions on Friday said they would also quit as the central leadership moves towards a decision on statehood.
Congress MLAs from Nellore district Sridhara Krishna Reddy and A Prabhakar Reddy said they are resigning in support of the demand for keeping Andhra Pradesh united.
The development comes amid assertion by the Congress' central leadership that consultation process over Telangana is over and time for a decision has come.
A ruling party MLA and 16 YSR Congress legislators from non-Telangana regions yesterday said they have "resigned" in support of a united Andhra Pradesh.
Except YSR Congress' floor leader in Assembly Y S Vijayamma, all the other 16 MLAs had "quit" their posts "individually", party sources said.
Alleging that Congress is more concerned about its political future in deciding the Telangana issue, YSRCP MLAs said it should first spell out its stance over the matter and consult all parties before taking any decision.
Congress MLA from Kamalapuram in Kadapa district G Veerasiva Reddy also said he has resigned from his post and also from the party.
Dismissing the resignations by YSRCP MLAs as political opportunism, APCC chief Botsa Satyanarayana said the Jaganmohan Reddy-led party should first announce its own stance on the Telangana issue.
The resignations were expected to put pressure on the legislators from Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra to quit in the event of the Centre taking a favourable decision on Telangana.
Competitive resignations have become routine in Andhra Pradesh ever since the contentious Telangana issue took the centre-stage in 2009.