New Delhi: A delegation of pro- Telangana legislators of the Congress on Wednesday spent nearly one-and-a-half hours in the conference room of the Union home ministry discussing their demand for a separate state. What is interesting, however, is that Union home minister P Chidambaram , who the delegation had come to meet, had to leave the conference room after the initial 10-15 minutes to attend a pre-scheduled meeting of the Lokpal bill drafting committee.
“Disappointed and hurt” , the Telangana MPs and MLAs/MLCs, including ministers, decided to stay put in the conference room and spent the next 75 minutes comparing their 43-minute audience with the Prime Minister last week with the few minutes spared by Chidambaram on Wednesday. So, Room no. 119 in North Block, which has witnessed many a brain-storming sessions on security matters, on Wednesday turned into a forum for the Congress representatives from Telangana to air their frustration over the Centre’s indecision over the statehood issue.
Many members of the delegation – including 13 MPs, 10 Andhra ministers , 28 MLAs and 13 MLCs – took turns to express their angst over the government’s Uturn on the December 2009 assurance by Chidambaram stating that the process of formation of Telangana had begun. On his part, Chidambaram did hear out the Telangana leaders, and even assured that he would convey their views to the Congress core committee, which would take the final decision on the options suggested by the Srikrishna Commission. In any case, no decision was possible on the sensitive issue without the clearance of the party high command, the Union home minister is said to have explained.
Chidambaram, who was already getting late for the Lokpal drafting committee meeting , then requested to take leave of the delegation . The home minister’s hurry to end the Telangana meeting was but understandable , given that the Lokpal meeting was as crucial. But still, the Telangana MPs, who are under pressure from the regional interest groups to press for a separate state, refused to budge even after Chidambaram had left. For the next hour and 15 minutes, the legislators remained huddled in the conference room, making angry speeches over the Centre’s indifference and indecision.
The delegation also discussed the agenda points for their meeting with Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee later in the evening. Congress MP K Keshava Rao said the delegation was “disappointed that the home minister could not spare time to hear them on Telangana” , but hastily added that “we also understand that he had another meeting to attend” . Enquiring why there was a delay when “all” parties – including BJP , TDP , CPI, TRS and “Congress” – were in favour of a separate Telangana, Rao threatened that this would be their last interaction with the government in New Delhi.
“Pranab Mukherjee had requested us to suspend our agitation till after the assembly polls…now that the elections are over, we want the core committee to decide the Telangana issue soon,” he said and threatened to launch an agitational programme were an assurance not forthcoming in the next few days. Economic Times