Senior Congress leader threatens to quit over Telangana


Hyderabad : Veteran Congress leader and former union minister G. Venkatswamy Saturday threatened to quit the Lok Sabha if the government constituted a second States Reorganisation Commission (SRC) to look into demands for smaller states including Telangana.

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Venkatswamy, also a member of the Congress Working Committee, told reporters here that he would resign if the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government constituted the second SRC.

The ruling party in Andhra Pradesh is facing embarrassment as its leaders from Telangana region had come out openly against the proposal of the second SRC on the ground that this would delay the formation of a separate Telangana state.

The leaders from the region have warned the party that the move would affect its prospects in next year’s assembly elections. However, leaders from coastal Andhra and Rayalseema regions who were against bifurcation of the state have backed the move.

“The party leadership should clarify whether it was ready to give separate statehood to Telangana or not. There is no other way,” Venkatswamy said.

He warned that if the sentiments of the people of Telangana were not respected the region could witness a repeat of 1969, when the Telangana movement had taken a violent turn. More than 300 people were killed in police firing at various places.

Venkatswamy’s threat created ripples in the party with All India Congress Committee secretary Madhu Yakshi Goud calling on the senior leader Saturday evening.

Goud, a supporter of a separate Telangana, said he would try to prevail upon the central leadership not to constitute the second SRC.

Adding to the problems in the party, the Congress leaders favouring the second SRC have also gone public with their views.

Vijayawada MP L. Rajagopal Saturday distributed to the media copies of an agreement between the Congress and the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) before the 2004 elections. He claimed that in the agreement signed by then TRS leader A. Narendra, the two parties had agreed for a second SRC.

The TRS, which is fighting for separate state, has launched the protest against the Congress move saying it was betraying the people once again.

The demand for separate Telangana is four decades old. The region, comprising 10 districts including Hyderabad, account for 42 percent of the state’s area and 40 percent of the state’s 77 million population.