The Congress has yet again resorted to dawdling on the Telangana statehood issue, leaving it to the party's highest decision-making body, the Congress Working Committee (CWC), one more time after about 12 years.
According to a section in the party, the CWC may come out with an announcement before the monsoon session of Parliament, likely to start after August 15.
But pushing it back to the CWC after it passed a resolution on the setting up of the second states reorganisation commission in 2001 created doubts among the Congress leaders from Telangana.
A senior leader from the region claimed that this time, the Congress leadership was willing to consider the demand, but was forced by the leaders from Seemandhra — coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions — to defer it.
They cited Friday's core group meeting, in which Andhra chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy voiced concern over the possible rise of Maoism in the region once Telangana was created. He also argued that it would be extremely difficult to divide the state's resources.
This is not the first time that the Congress has delayed a decision after the UPA government announced on December 9, 2009, that it would soon initiate the process of creating a separate Telangana state, but was forced to step back following violent protests in coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema.
The announcement then triggered a rift within the ruling UPA as well. The NCP, DMK and Trinamool Congress accused the Congress of taking a "unilateral decision". It was further complicated by home minister Sushil Shinde's announcement at an all-party meeting on December 28, 2012, that the Telangana decision would be taken in a month. That didn't happen.
A powerful section within the party maintains that if Telangana is carved out of Andhra Pradesh, the party stands to be a major loser. They argue that it was a win-win situation for the Telangana Rashtra Samiti, which would gain even if a state was not created.
The pro-Telangana section refuses to buy this argument. They have repeatedly told the central leadership that the Congress would be wiped out of the region if the decision was further delayed.
Congress MPs from Telangana caution that while the party is losing its clout in the region, the YSR Congress of Jaganmohan Reddy is steadily gaining strength in the coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions. "It is becoming increasingly difficult for us to contain the situation," Karimnagar MP Ponnam Prabhakar said.
But anti-Telangana leaders say if the Congress decides against a separate state, the party would gain in coastal Andhra Pradesh (123 assembly and 17 Lok Sabha seats) and Rayalaseema (52 assembly and eight parliamentary seats), while Telangana has 117 assembly and 17 parliamentary seats.
There are also apprehensions that the TRS, the BJP and the TDP had discreetly joined hands to defeat the Congress in the next assembly and Lok Sabha elections.
The move to delay a decision has once again brought to the fore the dilemma the Congress is facing over the issue.