Under pressure to tide over the FDI tangle in the Lok Sabha, the UPA on Wednesday conceded to the demand of the Telangana Congress MPs and agreed to call another all-party meeting to discuss the contentious issue of separate statehood.
This was announced by Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde in an informal chat with scribes in the Parliament House in Delhi. Though Shinde did not specify a date, the Congress MPs from the region claimed the meeting would be on December 28 at 10 a.m. They also said that this time only one representative from each political party would be allowed in the meeting “which does not give chance to any party to adopt doublespeak on the issue”.
The Congress high command, which has been dodging the Telangana issue since it conducted the second all-party meet on January 7 last year so as to circulate the Justice Srikrishna Committee’s report, seems to have yielded to the pressure of the MPs from the T-region. On Tuesday, eight MPs, including Union science and technology minister S Jaipal Reddy had skipped a meeting called by Shinde and Kamal Nath and even threatened to abstain from the FDI voting if the government did not pay heed to their demand.
Following the absence of Ponnam Prabhakar, Mandha Jaganadham, G Vivek, Gutta Sukhender Reddy, Komatireddy Rajgopal Reddy, Siricilla Rajaiah, Madhu Yashki Goud and Palvai Govardhan Reddy at Tuesday’s meeting, AICC state affairs in-charge Ghulam Nabi Azad and party chief Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel swung into action and tried to persuade them.
The MPs then sent Ponnam Prabhakar and Madhu Yashki Goud to hold talks with Azad and Shinde. According to sources, the MPs demanded that in return for their support on the FDI issue, the Centre must either make a clear statement favouring the creation of Telangana or hold an all-party meet. Sources said that at a meeting of the MPs on Tuesday evening, they had also discussed floating a separate party and had given a deadline of December 9 to make up their mind of the issue.
“We have made it clear to our high command that further delay on the T-issue would spell doom for our party in the region. Since TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu and YSRC leader Sharmila are blaming the Congress for the delay on a decision on the T-issue during their padayatras, we have asked our leadership to hold an all-party meet,” Manda Jagannadham said.
It is learnt that after holding talks with Sonia Gandhi over their demands, Azad told Ponnam and Yashki that an all-party meeting would be held after the current Parliament session. But the MPs insisted on a date and time. “When Azad said that the Centre is ready to hold an all-party meet, we told him firmly that the people of Telangana would no longer believe such statements without specific date. Hence, we told him clearly that only after fixing a date would we could take part in the FDI voting,” an MP said.