Pawar bats for Telangana

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar on Thursday that the government was grappling with the timing on announcing its decision on Telangana, after the latter raised the issue in a one-on-one meeting in the morning.

Pawar's strong pitch for Telangana comes in the backdrop of growing voices in the last few days on the issue. "He told me that a decision was to be taken on the timing when I urged him that the government should not delay a decision on Telangana as it is a sensitive issue," Pawar said.

According to Pawar, he pointed to the Prime Minister that the UPA had in 2004 backed statehood for Telangana. He added that his party had openly supported statehood for the region and had even addressed a meeting together with TRS chief K Chandrashekhar Rao.

Insisting that the Congress was also "pro-Telangana", he said the party had on Wednesday itself extended support to the issue. Party spokesperson PC Chacko had said that the Congress is not against the formation of Telangana state.

Speaking for the government though, I&B Minister Manish Tewari was evasive, only saying that there was a need for patience on the issue. "There is a need to be patient, there is a need to be engaged. Government has been engaged with the issue. There is a need to have patience and forbearance on all sides," he said. Asked about Pawar's remarks, he said: "Sharad Pawar is a senior member of the UPA and a valuable ally. We take his suggestions very seriously".

Pawar, whose party is also a major partner in the Congress-led coalition in Maharashtra, said NCP has no objection if Vidarbha region also becomes a separate state. "If the people want it, we will not come in the way."

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