Published On: Wed, Feb 20th, 2013

Centre may follow Gorkhaland model to end Telangana

Feb 20:

It was indirectly hinted by Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde at the all-party meeting held at North Block in New Delhi on Friday. “We could take a bold decision on the Darjeeling Hill Council to end the Gorkhaland issue. Similarly, we are confident of finding a solution to the Telangana issue as well with the support of all the political parties in Andhra Pradesh,” Shinde is learnt to have told the representatives of eight political parties at the meeting.

With the Home Minister categorically declaring that the Centre would come out with a solution to the Telangana imbroglio within a month, the ball is now completely in the court of the UPA government. Sources in the Congress party said the Centre would not dare take a decision on the bifurcation of the state at this stage, as it would stir the hornet’s nest elsewhere in the country.

“There is a possibility that the Centre would come out with a proposal to form the autonomous Telangana Regional Council with adequate powers and a hefty financial package for the development of the region. The Centre would say that the proposal would only be an ad hoc solution for the vexed issue to end political uncertainty in the state and that the option of granting statehood to Telangana would continue to be on its agenda till a political consensus on the issue is evolved,” sources said.

The Telangana Regional Council would be on the lines of Darjeeling Hill Council, which has recently transformed into Gorkhaland Territorial Administration with considerable autonomy for the local tribes. The regional council would be equipped with adequate funds, functions and functionaries. It would be headed by a legislator with Cabinet rank and would provide a legislative consultative mechanism for subjects like planning and economic development, water and irrigation, education, skill development and vocational education, local administration and public health. It would implement the sub-plan for the Telangana region and would be served by its own secretariat headed by an officer of the level of additional chief secretary in the state who would report to the chairman of the council.

The Congress high command is said to be of the view that the regional council proposal would be a sort of face saving option for the party, since without giving any commitment on the Telangana issue, it would be finished in the next elections. “Thus, the Congress party can go to the next General Elections with a promise to grant separate Telangana at a later stage, if the regional council mechanism does not work out,” sources said.

Telangana Rashtra Samithi president K Chandrasekhara Rao, who had a 10-minute one-on-one meeting with Shinde after the all-party meeting, apparently realised that the Centre was in no mood to grant separate Telangana state straightaway. “It was a useless meeting and the Centre is not serious on the Telangana state formation. I am thoroughly disappointed. The three major parties – the Congress, the Telugu Desam Party and the YSR Congress, continued with their ambivalent stand on the Telangana issue. Shinde’s assurance that the Centre would find a solution to Telagnana issue within a month is humbug,” KCR told the media after the meeting and called for a Telangana shutdown on Saturday.

The Congress MPs from Telangana, however, are optimistic that the Centre would carve out Telangana state. “The formation of Telangana is inevitable. How and when it is possible has to be watched out. We will wait for one more month before spelling out our stand,” a Telangana MP said.

The interesting part of the all-party meeting is that the TDP has scored some brownie points by telling the Centre that it was in favour of Telangana state. “We have given a letter addressed by our party president N Chandrababu Naidu to Shinde stating that the TDP is committed the formation of Telangana state as was indicated in our earlier letter to the Pranab Mukherjee Committee in 2008. We have not gone back on our stand mentioned in that letter, which is still with the Centre. And Shinde recorded in the minutes of today’s meeting that the TDP is in favour of Telangana,” said