Telangana State demand gets Pawar boost
The separate Telangana demand got a fillip from a familiar but important player in the UPA coalition on Thursday, with NCP boss Sharad Pawar urging the Prime Minister to make haste on the issue and advising him to call a meeting of the ruling coalition’s coordination committee to discuss the problem.
More importantly, Pawar, who has been supportive of the Telangana issue in the past, said the matter ought to be settled regardless of its implications for a similar separate state demand for Vidarbha in his native state of Maharashtra.
Pawar, the Union agriculture minister, said he had had a discussion with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and expected UPA coordination committee to be convened soon to discuss the Telangana issue.
“The question is one of timing. We want Telangana as early as possible. A delay will not be helpful,” he said.
Pawar said the Congress is “generally pro-Telangana”, and if a separate state was created, then that party would get electoral benefits.
To a query whether he would support statehood for Vidarbha too, Pawar said if that was what the people of the region wanted, he would not stand in the way. Pawar’s intervention on Telangana, while not wholly novel -- for he had addressed separate state rallies with TRS boss K Chandrasekhar Rao in the past -- was unexpected. Immediately after the Cabinet meeting on Thursday, Pawar conferred with Singh and reportedly explained to him how an announcement on Telangana would be beneficial.
He said he reminded Singh that the Congress had promised Telangana on the eve of the 2004 elections and had even included the promise in the UPA’s Common Minimum Programme. It was included in the election manifesto and in the President’s address to Parliament. If the party went back on a promise it has made several times, it would not help in any way, Pawar said, adding that he even told the Prime Minister that the Vidarbha angle need not be a consideration now.
Amplifying on Pawar’s views, NCP general secretary D P Tripathy said, “We are for a Telangana state. Our stand on Telangana has been very clear. If you remember, Sharad Pawar took part in a rally along with TRS chief K Chandrasekhar Rao in Adilabad in the past,” he said.
The Congress, which has been dithering over the decision in recent days, described Pawar’s suggestion as valuable. Speaking to mediapersons, Union minister for information and broadcasting Manish Tiwari said: “The NCP is our valuable ally. We will take Sharad Pawar’s views seriously.”
Pawar’s forceful intervention was music to the TRS’ ears. Welcoming the suggestion for a meeting of the UPA constituents, TRS leader T Harish Rao said: “I thank Sharad Pawar on behalf of the people of Telangana for backing the Telangana movement. The Prime Minister should call a meeting of the UPA.”
Perhaps not coincidentally, the Gorkhaland separate question seemed to have flared up in West Bengal, where the chief minister Mamata Banerjee is holding steadfast to the view that the state should be united and the GJM equally insistent that if a Telangana state can be countenanced so can a Darjeeling.