New Delhi,Jan 5: A crucial meeting on the Telangana issue, called by Home Minister P Chidambaram, has ended in a stalemate, but all the eight political parties that met him have agreed to work on building a consensus. Chidambaram will now meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to brief him about the meeting.
After the meeting, the eight recognized Andhra Pradesh parties issued a joint statement appealing for peace and harmony in the state, which has seen much strife and violence over the carving out of a separate Telangana state.
The statement said the parties had "expressed our views and the Centre has taken note." But as party leaders emerged from the meeting, it was clear that they were no closer to a consensus than they had been when they walked in.
The Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) refused to react immediately after, with party leader K T Rama Rao saying his father and party chief K Chandrasekhar Rao would speak only after meeting Chidambaram. "KCR is now waiting for Chidambaram to give a final statement and only after that will he speak." Rao said. KCR is in Delhi and scheduled to meet Chidambaram on Tuesday.
But other parties were more forthcoming. Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister K Rosaiah said the situation in the state was under control, but actor-turned-politician Chiranjeevi seemed to sum up the mood when he said: "Andhra is in crisis. We suggested the government form a committee, first maintain peace, we are for united Andhra. (We are) happy the government invited all parties, but unsatisfied as they (the home minister/ministry) didn’t open their mouths." (Watch: Not happy with the meeting, says Chiranjeevi)
Congress MP K S Rao, who represented the coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema faction within the party, said modalities for a roadmap on the Telangana issue were discussed. He said there was a suggestion to institute a mechanism for this, but some parties said there was no need for it.
At the meeting, the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM), which is against a separate Telangana state, said President’s Rule should be imposed in Andhra Pradesh and a committee to discuss the issue further should be constituted.
But the BJP said there was no need for further consultations and the Centre should go ahead with Telangana. BJP spokesman Prakash Javdekar said: "We firmly support formation of Telangana.The Congress is creating confusion on this issue. They should clarify whether they support Telangana or not."
The Home Minister had invited the parties to try and resolve the Telangana deadlock. Home Secretary G K Pillai was also part of the talks. After the discussion, Chidambaram described it as a "good meeting."
The Home Minister had made an opening statement as the meeting began that asked for bandhs to stop and requested all parties to work together. (Read: Stop bandhs in Andhra Pradesh, says Chidambaram)
While talks were on inside, pro and anti-Telangana groups clashed outside the meeting venue, just outside the home ministry office. They shouted "Jai Andhra" and "Jai Telangana" slogans. Such demonstrations are unprecedented in the Capital’s North Block.
The fracas was but a public mirror of the way things are politically.
To keep up the pressure on the Centre, protesters on both sides of the divide have decided to block road and rail traffic across Andhra Pradesh today.
The Railways have cancelled 88 trains including 39 passenger trains as authorities fear railway property will be damaged if protesters try to stop trains.
Schools, colleges, banks, ATMs, hotels, theatres, shops and offices remained closed yesterday. Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister K Rosaiah is expected to hold discussions with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the home minister to discuss the current crisis.
Who stands where
Let’s now take a look at where the political parties stand with respect to statehood for Telangana:
* The Congress and the TDP are a divided house.
* TRS, the party spearheading the Telangana movement, the BJP and CPI are for a separate Telangana state
* Chiranjeevi’s Praja Rajyam and CPM are for a unified Andhra Pradesh
* While the MIM is against a separate Telangana
And reports suggest the Centre is contemplating a plan to seek Presidential reference to court over the Telangana deadlock.
The government is examining a proposal to seek Presidential reference to the Supreme Court, to find a legal solution to the demand for a Telangana State.
The government feels, the issue is not only a political deadlock but also a legal one that could not be decided by the government alone.
The legal sticking point is that that as Andhra Pradesh was formed as a Telugu-speaking state, and now dividing it into two or three states might pose several legal questions.
A look at how the Telangana crisis unfolded:
The Telangana crisis began with TRS chief K Chandrasekhar Rao going on a fast unto death on the 29th of November demanding a separate state.
On the 9th of December after the Centre announced a guarded yes to the creation of Telangana, KCR ended his fast.
But the very next day massive protests broke out in the coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions against the bifurcation of the state.
On the 14th of December MLAs cutting across party lines began resigning in protest against Telangana demanding a unified Andhra Pradesh.
The Centre did a U-turn saying no decision will be taken till wide-ranging discussions are held with all parties KCR cried foul accusing the Centre of betrayal and pro-Telangana protests break out again.
The ruling Congress is caught in a deep divide within its own ranks as 13 ministers in the Rosaiah cabinet resign over the delay in forming Telangana.
And on December 30, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram invited all political parties from Andhra Pradesh for talks on January 5.