Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi today discussed the issue of Telangana and electoral reforms in a meeting of the Congress Core Group in New Delhi.
Sources said the meeting, that lasted for one and half hours, deliberated at length over the Telangana imbroglio, over which almost all parties in Andhra Pradesh are sharply divided on regional lines.
This is the first meeting of the top Congress brass over Telangana after BJP leader Lal Krishna Advani declared his party's support to the seperate statehood while addressing his first meeting in Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh over a week ago.
AICC general secretary in-charge of Andhra Pradesh Ghulam Nabi Azad was specially called to the Core Group meeting which was also attended by other Core Group members Pranab Mukhkerjee, A K Antony, P Chidambaram and Gandhi's political secretary Ahmed Patel.
Law minister Salman Khurshid, who is not a member of the Core Group, was also present at the meeting which also discussed the issue of electoral reforms in the light of Team Anna's demands for the right to recall and reject.
The Law Ministry proposals on electoral reforms include barring candidates against whom charges have been framed in cases of heinous crimes besides limited state funding of elections. Sources said the issue of electoral reforms was discussed at length at today's meeting.
The proposals include change in the Representation of People Act to provide for state funding for women and Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes' candidates of recognised political parties.
To get this benefit, candidates should not have an annual income of more than Rs five lakh and movable or immovable property worth more than Rs 22 lakh.
The limit would also include the income and assets of the candidates' spouses, the sources said.
Another proposal makes it mandatory for candidates and their parties to submit their accounts for audit by an agency authorised only by the Comptroller and Auditor General.
The Prime Minister's Office had asked the Law Ministry to evolve a political consensus on its proposals on poll reforms.
Seeking to push electoral reforms, Khurshid had met the Prime Minister on October 7 to discuss proposals of his Ministry on the issue during which he is learnt to have apprised Singh about the Law Ministry's plans to call an all-party meeting on electoral reforms some time later this month.