'US felt Telangana 'surrender' harmed Cong'

By "surrendering" to the Telangana statehood demand, the Congress came across as a party that appeared "weak and feeble" and one that can be "easily bullied and intimidated by threats", according to US assessment of the situation in 2009.

delhi Updated: Sep 04, 2011 20:42 IST

By "surrendering" to the Telangana statehood demand, the Congress opened a can of worms and came across as a party that appeared "weak and feeble" and one that can be "easily bullied and intimidated by threats", according to US assessment of the situation in 2009.

In a secret cable written on December 10, 2009, then US Ambassador to India Timothy Roemer said the ramifications of the "Telangana surrender" may go beyond Andhra Pradesh as similar demands that were simmering are likely to get a fresh impetus from the Telangana movement's "overnight success".

Writing the cable a day after home minister P Chidambaram announced the formation of a Telangana state, Roemer said the Congress is likely to be faced with a floodgate of similar demands from other statehood movements across the country and the decision has created a split within its own party.

"...it appears to come across as weak and feeble, a party that can be easily bullied and intimidated by threats just six month after winning a decisive electoral mandate," the cable, which has now been released by WikiLeaks, said.

Roemer also termed the Government's decision as a "huge success" for the then fasting K Chandrasekhar Rao and the TRS, a party with "just two members currently in the Lok Sabha and only six in the state assembly, picking and winning the confrontation with the UPA represents a huge success."

The cable also said the Indian government "abruptly caved" on December 9 and gave the go-ahead for formation of Telangana on the 11th day of Rao's hunger strike.

By conceding on Telangana, Roemer wrote, the Congress has potentially opened up a can of worms which was just emerging from the crisis it faced following the death of its chief minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy in September, 2009.

The US diplomat said the Telangana decision could trigger similar demands from the Vidharba region of Maharashtra, Bundelkhand and the Poorvanchal regions of Uttar Pradesh and more obscure nascent statehood movements in other parts of the country.

"The Congress Party (and the UPA government) may already be regretting its Telangana decision as more demands for statehood come out of the woodwork, the party splits in its stronghold of Andhra Pradesh, and as it is portrayed in the media as weak and spineless, caving at the first signs of trouble at the hands of a politically desperate has-been regional politician," he wrote in the cable.

Roemer also said Rao's demand for Telangana split the Congress in Andhra with many state legislators and members of parliament supporting his demand and others opposing it.

"Contacts tell us that also at play behind the scenes was an intense battle for the top spot in the state government between the incumbent chief minister, K. Rosaiah, and his rival YS Rajasekhara Reddy's son.

"The latter, not unhappy that Rao's fast was creating discomfort for his rival, has encouraged the split within the party on the Telangana issue," the cable says.

Dwelling further on the issue, Roemer said the Telangana carving out also raises the "thorny question" of the status of Hyderabad, which falls in Telangana.

"The TRS has clearly said that there could be no Telangana without Hyderabad. However, Hyderabad is a hub for major businesses of the state including software and pharmaceuticals.

"Hyderabad business is dominated by the Reddy and Khamma communities of the state but their base is the non-Telangana region of the state.

"These politically powerful communities are unlikely to cede Hyderabad to Telangana easily," the cable said.

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First Published: Sep 04, 2011 15:02 IST