Hyderabad: Pro-Telangana activists are upset with yet another delay on the statehood issue and have threatened to intensify the protests in Hyderabad. This came after the Centre deferred the Telangana decision once again on Sunday. After a meeting of top Congress leaders, Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde issued a statement saying the consultation process is still on and a final decision cannot be reached now.
Opposition parties in Andhra Pradesh accused the Centre of "betrayal" on the Telangana issue. Some Congress leaders were also critical of the statements in Delhi by Shinde and AICC general secretary Ghulam Nabi Azad. Effectively, the Union Home Minister's "deadline" for announcing the Centre's decision on the statehood issue ends on Monday, but his statement, coupled with that of Azad, came hours ahead and left many "disappointed".
"This is nothing but putting off the Telangana issue permanently," Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) MLA T Harish Rao fumed. The Congress has betrayed people of the region yet again, he said adding that they would now carry the statehood struggle forward by primarily targeting the Congress ministers and other leaders from the region.
Telugu Desam Party (TDP) senior leader Motkupalli Narasimhulu noted that Azad and Shinde's statements only made it clear that the Congress would not grant statehood to Telangana. "People will not accept their statements. There is no need for further talks on the issue," he said.
BJP state president G Kishan Reddy called upon people to "see the end" of Congress, while CPI state secretary K Narayana termed the Congress duo's statements as "suicidal". "Their claims amount to insulting all the political parties in the state and the entire political system as well.
Looks like the Congress will not sleep till Andhra Pradesh is fully burnt," Narayana lashed out. The flip-flops would spell doom for the Congress in all regions of the state, he warned. Congress MP Gutta Sukhender Reddy dubbed Azad and Shinde's statements as "meaningless" and asserted that the delay in taking a decision on the statehood issue would do no good for the party.
Meanwhile, mild tension prevailed at Indira Park on Sunday night when a group of pro-Telangana activists gheraoed three Congress leaders of the region and allegedly pelted stones at their vehicles. A group of pro-Telangana activists raised slogans against Congress MPs - Ponnam Prabhakar and G Vinod - as well as senior party leader K Keshava Rao when they went to Indira Park to express solidarity with protesters staging a 36-hour 'samaradeeksha' protest over the Telangana statehood issue. The pro-Telangana activists gheraoed the leaders and demanded them to resign from the Congress party, even as another group of pro-Telangana activists allegedly pelted stones at their vehicles.
Sources say Congress is divided on the issue, Azad and few others feel that giving into Telangana would trigger similar demands elsewhere. Shinde, who had in December set a one-month deadline for a decision, said on Sunday that the consultation process is underway. Shinde had on December 28, 2012 said the Centre would announce a decision on the contentious issue in a month. However, Azad on January 23 indicated that the decision may be delayed.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi has been holding hectic consultations with her senior colleagues like Azad, Shinde, Vayalar Ravi and Ahmed Patel for the past few days.
The Core Committee of the Congress had met on Saturday and discussed the issue, but no decision was taken. The meeting of the Congress Core Group deliberated exclusively on the vexed issue at a time when Andhra Pradesh is divided on regional lines on the issue. The party high command has been grappling with the issue as there has been no unanimity among the top leaders.
(With additional information from PTI)