statesman news service
HYDERABAD, 19 JUNE: Telangana leaders raised their pitch and declared that they would not contest the 2014 elections if the Central leadership does not grant statehood to the region immediately.
Deputy Chief Minister Damodar Rajanarasimha said the people of Telangana would not trust Congress leaders if statehood is not carved out and therefore it is pointless to contest the elections. He said this should put sufficient pressure on the high command. He said so last night at a meeting with 11 ministers, 8 MPs, 15 MLAs and 9 MLCs, among other senior leaders. Only three ministers were absent. The meeting is significant as this was the largest gathering of Telangana leaders in the recent past.
Yet the fact that those present included leaders both ill-disposed and favourable to Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy gave an impression that their high command was behind it to begin creating an atmosphere that the Congress is fully alive to the aspirations of the Telangana people. Senior leaders, like minister Mr K Jana Reddy, said they ought to be careful not to be seen as threatening the leadership or giving them an ultimatum. He said it would be fit if they wrote a letter listing their feelings and the compelling situation in Telangana and submit it to Mrs Sonia Gandhi. Before this, he said, they should hold a public meeting at the Nizam College grounds on 30 June with at least 1 lakh people to drive home the point that the Congress alone can grant statehood, while the other parties are merely posturing on the issue.
Former minister Mr T Jeevan Reddy differed and said deciding not to contest is not sufficient to win the trust of the people. He said MLAs cannot resign in the present Assembly as it directly involves the collapse of the government. Instead, the ministers should quit their posts. Others said they have to consider every option with equal importance as they should not be responsible for precipitating a crisis.
Meanwhile, Telangana ministers in the Assembly today, said they would reject any kind of package for the region and nothing short of immediate statehood is acceptable to them. This is against the backdrop of reports that the Congress core committee found granting statehood impossible in the present circumstances. Instead, Mr Rahul Gandhi has given the green signal for a detailed package, involving development funds, new jobs and political posts to the leaders. He reportedly said the leadership has to move fast on this front.
‘The people of Telangana would not trust Congress leaders if statehood is not given and therefore it is pointless to contest the elections’