Telangana panel formed, parties wait for its brief


New Delhi/Hyderabad : Nearly a month after its all-party meeting on Telangana, the government Wednesday announced a five-member panel headed by retired Supreme Court Justice B.N. Srikrishna to deliberate on a mechanism for separate statehood to the region and consult all sections of people, political parties and groups in Andhra Pradesh.

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Shortly after announcement of the panel, the Telangana Joint Action Committee (JAC), spearheading the agitation for a separate state, said it would wait for the terms of reference of the committee before giving its views.

“We will meet once the centre announces the terms of reference and other details and then react. What we want is a Telangana state in a time-frame. If this committee is for it, then we will welcome it,” said JAC convenor M. Kodandaram in Hyderabad.

“The terms of reference are more important than the persons included in the committee,”

Even the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) said it would wait for terms of reference of the Srikrishna Committee to be announced.

“We are waiting for terms of reference of the committee to know if it is in furtherance to the Dec 9 statement made by Home Minister P. Chidambaram. (If it is so), then we can look forward to it. If it is a step back to explore whether to give Telangana or not, then we will not be happy with it,” said K.T. Rama Rao, TRS MLA who is party president K. Chandrasekhar Rao’s son.

The home ministry pointed out that the terms of reference were being drafted and would be finalised in consultation with the chairman and announced shortly.

The other members of the committee are vice-chancellor of the National Law University Ranbir Singh, senior research fellow of the International Food Policy Research Institute Abusaleh Shariff, former home secretary Vinod Duggal, and Ravinder Kaur, professor of of humanities and social sciences at IIT Delhi.

Congress spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan told IANS: “I’m extremely sure that in this sensitive matter, a decision will be taken to the satisfaction of all.”

However, the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) rejected the committee, saying it will serve no purpose as there was no clear reference for creation of a separate Telangana.

“The BJP rejects lock, stock and barrel the committee set up by the government for consultation on the situation in Andhra Pradesh,” BJP spokesman Prakash Javadekar said in New Delhi.

“The committee is an eyewash and adds insult to the injured sentiments of the people of Telangana. It is a delaying tactic and futile exercise,” he said.

He demanded that the central government move a bill for creation of Telangana in the ensuing budget session of parliament.

In Patna, senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley alleged that the centre had adopted an “escapist attitude” on creation of a separate Telangana.

“The centre has adopted an escapist attitude… it is trying to fire from the shoulders of the judiciary by appointing retired judges to decide the Telangana issue,” said Jaitley while addressing BJP workers.

“I personally feel that retired judges cannot take political decisions as they are not trained for it. They have been trained to take constitutional, criminal and other decisions,” Jaitley said.

In Hyderabad, the main opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) termed as a “delaying tactic” the announcement of the five-member panel.

Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily met Congress president Sonia Gandhi to apprise her about the five-member committee that will deliberate on a mechanism for a separate state.

Congress sources said the minister, who is Congress in-charge of Andhra Pradesh, informed Gandhi about the views of party MPs about the committee.

Earlier, Congress MPs from Telangana and coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions met Moily to express their views.

Over the last two months normal life has been hit across the Telangana region of the state with the TRS and other parties launching shutdowns and demonstrations that have turned violent to protest the government’s dithering on the statehood issue. Transport links too were severely hit.

The proposed Telangana state has 10 districts. They are Warangal, Adilabad, Khammam, Mahabubnagar, Nalgonda, Ranga Reddy, Karimnagar, Nizamabad, Medak, and Hyderabad, including gthe capital city.

In his meeting with eight recognised political parties of Andhra Pradesh on Jan 5, Chidambaram announced the setting up of a committee to deliberate on a mechanism and lay down a road map for consultations on the Telangana issue.