The government is expected to stick to its decision to announce the formation of a separate state of Telangana by the end of January. The plan is to make Hyderabad a Union Territory, Warangal the capital of Telangana and Vijayawada the capital of Andhra. "The status of Hyderabad is the most contentious issue between those who want Telangana and those who are against it. Converting it into a UT will solve this problem," a senior Congress leader said.
However, if political reactions in Andhra Pradesh are anything to go by, the Congress high command will face a major political upheaval whichever way it moves. The party will witness an avalanche of resignations and revolt by its MPs and MLAs from one or the other region.
There were some reports that the announcement of Telangana will be done during the Congress' Chintan Shivir, which will be held between 18 and 20 January in Jaipur. Commenting on the matter, a party functionary said that though Telangana will be discussed in the Jaipur meeting, it's difficult to say conclusively that the announcement will be made there. "As things stand now, the decision will come after the Shivir, but before the month's end."
Party leaders in Delhi think granting UT status to Hyderabad will be acceptable to everyone. The UT will have four districts.
According to sources, the leadership knows that dragging the matter anymore will bleed the party politically. "The deadline of arriving at a decision on Telangana by 28 January, as promised by Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde has to be honoured. Congress MPs from Telangana have made it clear that this is the last chance for the party. Even Union minister S. Jaipal Reddy has indicated that if a decision is not taken, then he will be forced to take a strong step," a source said.
However, if the formation of Telangana is announced, at least 15 MPs and a large number of MLAs are likely to quit and join the Jagan Mohan-led YSR Congress. As for the UT status for Hyderabad, those in favour of a united Andhra are not willing to even discuss it. Elur MP Kavuri Sambasiva Rao told this newspaper, "When we are opposing the move to split AP, where is the question of discussing about Hyderabad?"
A delegation of MLAs from Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema called on Shinde on Monday and made it clear that the Centre should not rush into a decision without consulting them. "We are confident that the Centre would keep the state united," Shailajanath told this paper.
Cooperation Minister Kasu Venkata Krishna Reddy has threatened to quit the moment the Congress announces its decision to form Telangana. "If our high command decides to divide AP, there is not point in continuing in Congress," the minister said.
However, people and leaders from Telangana are not ready to accept anything short of statehood. "We are eagerly waiting for 28 January; if Shinde announces a road map for the creation of the state, we welcome it, otherwise, we are going to quit the party and our MP seats too," Nalgonda Congress MP Gutta Sukhender Reddy told The Sunday Guardian.
According to Sukhender Reddy, at least eight MPs including Jaipal Reddy and 35 MLAs will not hesitate to quit the Congress if the high command comes up with an alternative to Telangana. "Any other alternative, be it an economic package or a regional council with Constitutional safeguards or a proposal to go for a 2nd States Reorganization Commission are not okay with us," Reddy said.