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Friday, June 24, 2011

TELENGANA TANGLE: Too many cooks. And one big soup!

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The draft Lokpal Bill may have tied up the Congress’ attention at the Centre. But if it does not stir soon, Telangana might become a costly oversight, says SAI MANISH
Protesters at one of the cook-and-eat sessions in Hyderabad
Brewing trouble Protesters at one of the cook-and-eat sessions in Hyderabad
Photo: Syed Mazher Ali
FOR THE Congress-led UPA, which is racing against time to hammer out a draft Lokpal Bill, another ominous deadline looms on the horizon in the form of Telengana. Come 1 July, and the Congress will find itself staring right down a double-barrelled gun. On one side are its own MPs and MLAs from Telangana all ready with resignation letters, vacillating between hostility and rapprochement with the Congress High Command. On the other is the combined might of the Telangana Joint Action Committee (T-JAC) — a superstructure of pro-Telangana parties and politicians that has called for a ‘Maha Yuddham’ in July to force the Centre to concede its demand for a separate state
Headed by a fire-breathing Osmania University political science professor M Kodandaram, supported by TRS supremo K Chandrashekhara Rao and the BJP, the JAC has already started warming up to a full-blown assault in July by organising cook-and-eat sessions across Hyderabad last week. The warm-up turned out to be a massive success with thousands of families flooding the roads with their pots and pans. But before dealing with other Telangana leaders, the Congress will need to placate its inner demons.
“He just didn’t have the time to listen,” complains Telangana Congress MP K Hanumantha Rao about Union Home Minister P Chidambaram who excused himself to dash off to a core committee meeting on the Lokpal issue. “Some threefour people are trying to mislead the Congress High Command. The real protests are over a separate Telangana and not a unified Andhra as is being told by some Congressmen to the high command. I told Pranab Mukherjee that he has not understood the real issue, which is that we will not be able to face the people if a decision on a separate state is not taken right away.” Rao was part of a delegation that gave another ultimatum to the Central leadership to initiate a resolution in the AP Assembly for the creation of a separate state, failing which they would be forced to resign and take the issue to its “logical conclusion”. The Telangana faction in the Congress has been making animated demands with MPs even falling on Mukherjee’s feet leaving the veteran statesman embarrassed.

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