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Is Rayala-Telangana a Congress trial balloon?

india Updated: Dec 02, 2013 22:32 IST

Congress on Monday appeared to play down suggestions that a ministers’ panel set up to look into bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh could favour inclusion of two districts of Rayalseema in Telangana, saying "Telangana remains Telangana" even if the two districts are included.

Party general secretary in-charge for Andhra Pradesh Digvijaya Singh at the same time made it clear that he was "not aware" what the Group of Ministers (GoM) report is.

"Telangana remains Telangana. Even if they (the two districts) are inlcuded, it remains Telangana," Singh said, adding things will become clear once the report comes into public domain.

He was replying to a question asked whether the inclusion of the two districts of Rayalseema — Kurnool and Anantapur—will not amount to making the new state “Rayala Telangana”, whereas the resolution of the Congress Working Committee was for creation of Telangana.

The GoM, set up to look into the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, is all set to recommend a special status to both the states under Article 371-D of the Constitution and examining a proposal to include two districts of Rayalseema in Telangana.

The proposal to reconstruct the boundaries of Telangana and include Kurnool and Anantapur districts as part of Telangana is believed to have been examined by the GoM.

If Kurnool and Anantapur are added to Telangana state, it will make the bifurcation equal in terms of Lok Sabha and assembly seats for both Telangana and Seemandhra with each having 21 Lok Sabha and 147 assembly seats each.

At present, Seemandhra region of the state has 153 MLAs as against 119 from Telangana. Congress is keen that the state assembly clears the draft bill for Telangana.

This was one of the recommendations made by justice Srikrishna Committee.

In fact, Union rural development minister and member of GoM looking into the state bifurcation issue, Jairam Ramesh, was said to have broached the Rayala Telangana proposal when deputy chief minister Damodara Rajanarasimha had met him in New Delhi.

However, except Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen party and a few Congress leaders from Anantapuram district, there are no takers for the Rayala Telangana plan.

Chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy has many times voiced his reservations against the Telangana decision. The union cabinet is expected to consider the Andhra Pradesh State Re-organisation (draft) Bill within a couple of days.

The buzz in Andhra Pradesh political circles is that the Congress high command has tactfully floated the idea of creating Rayala Telangana to checkmate leaders on both sides of the regional divide.

A senior Congress leader said the Rayala Telangana will ensure there is no question of majority or minority in the assembly when the draft Bill is referred back to the President.

“The Centre can get away from the blame that it is dividing the state against majority opinion," he said.

Also, creation of Rayala Telangana will settle the water dispute at least partially as Kurnool and Anantapuram districts stand to get assured water from river Krishna, he said.

A possible fight for the new capital can also be averted, as Kurnool district leaders have been demanding that Kurnool town be made the capital once again.

Kurnool was the capital of erstwhile Andhra state before Andhra Pradesh came into being in 1956.

Interestingly, Kurnool district leaders, too, are averse to the idea of Rayala Telangana.

"We don't want Rayala Telangana. We want only an undivided Andhra Pradesh," state minor irrigation minister TG Venkatesh said.

The Telugu Desam Party leaders from Rayalaseema region are also breathing fire at the Congress over the latest speculation.

"Sitting in New Delhi, the Congress leaders are giving all sorts of leaks as part of their devious game plan. They should stop all this mischief," TDP senior leader Gali Muddukrishnama Naidu said.

In private, however, some TDP leaders from Anantapuram district said they would go by the wishes of people of their region and then take a stand.