Amid speculation that the Centre might consider the demand for making Hyderabad a union territory, Seemandhra Congress leaders, including Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy, on Tuesday pleaded with the AK Antony committee to grant “special status” to the city. The Congress high command is, sources said, offering various options on the status of the city to party leaders on both sides of the divide.
The sources said Kiran Reddy, who met the committee members in Delhi, urged them to make Hyderabad a Union Territory a la Chandigarh. Union ministers and Congress MPs from Seemandhra, who gave a power-point presentation to the committee soon after Kiran Reddy’s meeting, are learnt to have demanded the same. However, sources said, there was no unanimity among the leaders as some like Union minister K Chiranjeevi want the city to be made permanent joint capital whereas others are insisting on not only making Hyderabad a UT but also a new capital for Andhra within 10 years.
The Seemandhra lawmakers told the committee that if the Centre agreed to the proposal of granting special status to Hyderabad - be it a complete UT or partial UT - it would placate the people of Seemandhra. They further told the committee that this proposal could help restore normalcy in their region.
Their fresh pitch for Hyderabad came amid reports that the Centre was indeed open to considering the demand for making the city a UT. However, AICC state affairs incharge Digvijaya Singh denied the reports and told scribes, “It is true Seemandhra leaders are demanding UT status for Hyderabad. But, it is up to the Centre to decide.”
Emerging from the meeting, Union minister D Purandeswari claimed Hyderabad did not come up for discussion at all. Her colleague MM Pallam Raju said, “We have explained to the committee how intensely the people of Seemandhra have been agitating. We also told the committee that the way the party high command is making statements on the issue is creating a sort of feeling among Seemandhra people that the Antony committee is showing undue haste in implementing the CWC decision instead of addressing their concerns.”
According to him, the committee has accepted their proposal of touring across Seemandhra to interact with agitating farmers, students and employees. The committee might visit the region after the ongoing Parliament session ends.
Interestingly, earlier, when the Chief Minister had a half-an-hour meeting with the committee, AK Antony and Digvijaya Singh are learnt to have ticked him off for making public comments on the T-decision. However, he tried to convince them that he only spoke in the interest of the party in Seemandhra, sources said. He was told to take a tough stance and ensure law and order in Seemandhra as well as in Hyderabad.
Earlier in the day in Hyderabad, Kiran Reddy clearly stated he was for united Andhra Pradesh. Replying to a trainee civil servant at the inaugural session of the 88th Foundation Course for the Indian Forest Service and Central Civil Officers at MCR HRD in the city, the Chief Minister said, “my views are clear. United, we stand to gain.”