Sonia holds talks in party, decision on Telangana soon

Congress chief Sonia Gandhi is likely to take the political call on statehood for Telangana within a day or two, finally ending the protracted dilemma in the ruling party on whether it should or not adopt the line on creation of smaller states, top sources said Wednesday.

Sonia held close-door consultations in the evening with senior leaders including Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, her political secretary Ahmed Patel, Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and Overseas Affairs Minister Vyalar Ravi. However, sources said a second round has been scheduled for Thursday after Finance Minister P Chidambaram, who is abroad, returns. The talks will also include PM Manmohan Singh and the party vice president Rahul Gandhi.

Shinde had said last month that the Centre will take a decision within 30 days. The deadline is January 28, incidentally the same day when Shinde has planned a visit to Dhaka. Though sources said the government may take a little more time in shedding light on the issue as it will be preoccupied with functions relating to Republic Day in the week ahead. This was indicated as much by Azad when he suggested that there may be some delay in Congress articulating its stand on the issue.

The Congress is faced with a grave political challenge in Andhra Pradesh for the 2014 elections, where it could find it almost impossible to repeat the 2009 performance of winning 33 out of 42 seats if it rejects the Telangana demand. Agreeing to the demand, on the other hand, brings the risk of alienating non-Telangana regions.

Telangana shutdown today

Pro-Telangana groups on Wednesday called for a shutdown and protests again in Hyderabad and Telangana region after AICC Andhra Pradesh in-charge and Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad hinted that a decision on Telangana may be delayed. As soon as Azad's comments were aired by Telugu news channels, the Telangana Joint Action Committee and TRS leaders went into a huddle. As a first step, they condemned Azad's statement and announced a shutdown on Thursday.

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