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Digvijay Singh’s visit leaves Telangana supporters upbeat

Final decision on Andhra Pradesh split expected in a fortnight, says Congress general secretary

Gulf News

Hyderabad: Congress General Secretary Digvijay Singh’s visit to Hyderabad has heightened political passions as he dropped more than clear hints that Andhra Pradesh was heading towards a split, bringing the decades old issue of Telangana to a climax.

Digvijay, who left for Bengaluru on Tuesday, said that he had asked for a roadmap from Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy, Deputy Chief Minister Damodar Rajanarasimha and state Congress president Botsa Satyanarayana.

“Once I get this roadmap I will submit my report to the party high command,” said Digvijay who heard from supporters and opponents of a separate Telangana state.

Digvijay told the state Congress leaders that a decision either way was expected in a fortnight and asked them to abide by the decision of the high command.

He said that bifurcation (splitting into two) or a united state were the only two options.

“A decision in the best interest of the nation and the state and welfare of the people will be taken”, he said.

Another indication that the Congress high command was mulling the idea of dividing Andhra Pradesh into two equal parts by offering Rayala-Telangana (Telangana region plus two districts of Rayalaseema) came when Digvijay asked Telangana Joint Action Committee convenor Prof Kodanda Ram whether he had any objection to this proposal.

Ram, along with other leaders of TJAC, met Digvijay on Monday night to urge him for any early solution to Telangana issue. Significantly, Digvijay also met the state governor E.S.L. Narasimha during the night.

According to sources, the AICC general secretary wanted the roadmap covering various aspects such as an administrative action plan and ways to deal with the law and order and political situation in case of a decision to divide the state or otherwise.

Digvijay told a press conference that the time for a final decision had come.

“Wider consultations have been held on Telangana issue with political parties and elected representatives”, he said adding that a final decision would be taken soon.

While Telangana leaders of Congress party were elated over the positive signals from Digvijay Singh, their Andhra and Rayalaseema counter parts were left worried and anxious and they convened a caucus to finalise their counter-strategy.

One minister from Rayalaseema Shailajanath said that the issue was still at the crossroads and people of Andhra and Rayalaseema were against dividing the state.

“The time has come for all the people to speak up in favour of united Andhra Pradesh, rising above political affiliations”, he said.

He said he hoped that important Congress leaders from Andhra, including minister Kavuri Sambasiva Rao and MP Lagadapati Rajagopal, would also raise their voices for a unified Andhra Pradesh.

Meanwhile, United Andhra Pradesh Students JAC warned of serious consequences if the state was divided.

The anger against the proposed division of the state appeared to be spilling to the streets as hundreds of students attended a rally in Visakhapatanam denouncing Digvijay’s statements regarding the roadmap.

Elsewhere, Telangana Congress leaders spoke against the proposal for merging two Rayalaseema districts with Telangana state.

Senior minister K. Jana Reddy told media on Tuesday that the division should be on the regional lines between Andhra and Rayalaseema “but the Telugu people should remain united emotionally”.

Reddy urged the central government to take a decision before the situation slipped out of control and affected the development of the region. The BJP has also come out against the proposal of Rayala-Telangana. “Who has demanded for Rayala-Telangana? These are all balloons the Congress party is releasing in the air,” said senior party leader M. Venkaiah Naidu in Tirupati, where the party’s state executive was meeting. Naidu said that nobody was ready to believe that the Congress party was going to give Telangana a separate state.