Cong leaning towards Telangana

The Congress is learnt to be reconciled to the inevitability of the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh and the creation of the state of Telangana, but is undecided on timing the formal announcement. No decision is likely to be taken before the January 28 deadline set by Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde last month.

"It (Telangana) will have to be created, but the only issue is how to go about it. We are working on the modalities," a senior Congress leader said.

The Congress leadership on Thursday discussed various aspects of managing the situation after the decision is announced. Sources said another meeting, possibly the last one, was likely to be convened either on Friday or Saturday. The urgency — the preoccupation with Republic Day notwithstanding — indicated that the issue was near closure.

Over the last two days, Congress president Sonia Gandhi has met with senior leaders including Shinde, her political secretary Ahmed Patel, AICC general secretaries Digvijaya Singh and Ghulam Nabi Azad, and Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi. Significantly, both meetings since Wednesday were attended by Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi.

A majority of senior Congress leaders are learnt to be in favour of making Hyderabad the capital of both states. Last week's Chintan Shivir saw several leaders pitching strongly for smaller states to ensure better administration. There was also a proposal to set up a second states reorganisation commission.

Some senior ministers, notably Defence Minister A K Antony, are, however, said to have reservations about a separate state. Sources said they feel that bifurcating Andhra Pradesh would strengthen Naxals; besides, pro-Telangana groups are not yet ready to accept Hyderabad as a joint capital.

The Congress leadership is believed to be leaning towards Telangana after realising that the party faces a rout in the state which sent 33 Congress MPs to the Lok Sabha in 2009. The YSR Congress has steadily gained in strength, while the Congress has been in disarray due to factional fights.

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