The Centre on Wednesday appointed a five-member expert committee to look into the demand for a new state of Telangana, one of the three main regions of Andhra Pradesh.
The committee, headed by retired Supreme Court judge B.N. Srikrishna, will hold talks with all sections of the people, including political parties and groups in the state.
A home ministry statement, which made no mention of Telangana, said the terms of reference of the committee were being worked out and would be announced shortly. A home ministry official said the terms of reference were likely to be announced later this week.
The other members of the committee are Ranbir Singh, vice-chancellor, National Law University, Delhi; Abusaleh Shariff, senior research fellow, International Food Policy Research Institute, Delhi; Ravinder Kaur, professor, department of humanities and social sciences, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi; and former Union Home Secretary Vinod K. Duggal.
Both the Congress factions supporting and opposing statehood for Telangana appreciated the move.
“We welcome it. The only lacuna is that there is no mention of the timeframe. We hope this is included in the terms of reference,” Congress MP Gaddam Vivekanand, who supports the Telangana cause, told HT.
Opponents of statehood were upbeat too. “We had asked for a committee and the government has announced it,” said Kavuri Samba Siva Rao, a Congress MP who wants a united Andhra Pradesh.
The all-Party Joint Action Committee (JAC) in Hyderabad is non-committal. “We will wait for the terms of reference,” said JAC convener M. Kodandaram.
The Telangana Rashtra Samithi’s (TRS’s) stand is the same. “We are waiting for terms of reference to know if (the committee) is in furtherance of the December 9 statement made by Home Minister P. Chidambaram (promising statehood). If so, we can look forward to it. Otherwise, we will not be happy,” said K.T. Rama Rao, MLA and son of TRS founder Chandrasekhar Rao.
Bharatiya Janata Party member Arun Jaitley, who is leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha, said the government was firing from the shoulders of the judiciary by appointing a retired judge to decide on the issue.
“I personally feel that judges cannot take political decisions. They have been trained to take constitutional, criminal and other decisions,” Jaitley added.
Meanwhile, people supporting Telangana formed a 500-km human chain from Adilabad, 322 km north of Hyderabad, to Alampur, 200 km south of Hyderabad as part of the agitation.