New Delhi: With three political parties absent from the meeting, the Srikrishna Report on Telangana was presented on Thursday morning by Home Minister P Chidambaram to five other parties from Andhra Pradesh. The report places before the government several options rather than recommendations on how to handle the three parts of the state: Coastal Andhra, Telangana and Rayalaseema.
The 505-page report lists six options and then itself rules out the first three options as not being practical, saying the most "workable option" is the sixth one - a united Andhra Pradesh with constitutionally-allocated regional rights to help the socio-economic development of the Telangana region.(Read: Full text of Srikrishna Committee Report)
The six options that the report lists are:
1. Maintain status quo
2. Bifurcation of the State into Seemandhra and Telangana; with Hyderabad as a Union Territory and the two states developing their own capitals in due course
3. Bifurcation of State into Rayala-Telangana and coastal Andhra regions with Hyderabad being an integral part of Rayala-Telangana
4. Bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh into Seemandhra and Telangana with enlarged Hyderabad Metropolis as a separate Union Territory
5. Bifurcation of the State into Telangana and Seemandhra as per existing boundaries with Hyderabad as the capital of Telangana and Seemandhra to have a new capital
6. Keeping the State united by simultaneously providing certain definite Constitutional/Statutory measures for socio-economic development and political empowerment of Telangana region -creation of a statutorily empowered Telangana Regional Council (Read: Summary of the report)
Of the three choices that the report shortlists, it leans towards option 6 as "the most workable option" - a combination of socio-economic development and the creation of a special council. (Watch: Report lists six options; rejects three, says Chidambaram)
The report states: "The Committee discussed all aspects of this option and while it acknowledges that there will be certain difficulties in its implementation, on balance, it found it the most workable option in the given circumstances and in the best interest of the social and economic welfare of the people of all the three regions." (Read: Chidambaram's full speech at Telangana meet)
Option 5 - the creation of a Telangana state with Hyderabad as its capital is what pro-Telangana parties like the TRS, headed by K Chandrasekhar Rao, endorse. This, they say, is the only acceptable scenario. (Read: Disappointed Telangana will make Option 5 new mantra)
The Committee states that a possible split in the state should be seen in a larger context.
"The division of the state will also have serious implications outside Andhra Pradesh. It would not only give fillip to other similar demands but it will be for the first time after the re-organisation of states that a political demand for dividing a linguistically constituted state would have conceded by the Union Government with creation of two Telugu-speaking states," the report said.
"The issue requires a most calm and dispassionate consideration of the consequences. The matter should also be seen in the larger context of whether a region can be allowed to decide for itself what its political status should be, as that would only create a demand for a great number of small states resulting in problems of coordination and management," the Committee said.
Home Minister meets leaders; TRS, TDP keep away
The report was presented by Home Minister P Chidambaram to five political parties from Andhra Pradesh on Thursday.
Three main parties - Chandrababu Naidu's TDP, the BJP, and K.Chandrasekhar Rao's TRS - boycotted the Home Minister's meeting. KCR, who fronted the campaign for a new state, says there's nothing to discuss. It was his lengthy hunger fast in 2009 that gave new momentum to the Telangana movement. "The people of Telangana are not prepared to accept anything less than a Telangana state," said KCR at a rally in Hyderabad this afternoon.
After making the report public, Chidambaram promised that the government would keep in mind the aspirations of the people of all three regions of Andhra Pradesh. He pointed out that, "The committee itself has rejected the first three options as not practical and has listed options four, five and six. All political parties, all individuals must show adequate respect to labours of the commission." He urged parties not to come to instant conclusions.
On the parties that skipped the meeting, Mr Chidambaram said, "I deeply regret the stand taken by them. It does scant justice to the valuable work done." "Nevertheless, I propose to send a copy of the report to the parties that have chosen to stay away," he said. (Watch - Telangana issue: The story so far)
He then added, "I would urge you to read the report and the recommendations with an open mind and be prepared to persuade, and to be persuaded by, people who hold another point of view." The Home Minister suggested that the group meet again later this month after regional leaders have read the report.
Congress' internal dilemma
The Srikrishna Committee which was set up in February 2010 with the tough agenda of unraveling what "all sections of society" feel about the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh. There are three regions - Telangana, Rayalaseema and Coastal Andhra. Those from Telangana want Hyderabad as the capital of a new state. The other two regions object strongly, not least because of Hyderabad's commercial success as an IT mecca.
The issue is so complex that even the ruling Congress finds itself struggling to keep its politicians from Andhra Pradesh together. Leaders from Telangana met the Congress' central leaders last night and said they will not surrender their demand for a new state. In recent weeks, Congress MPs and MLAs from the Telangana region have threatened to resign if the union government does not stand by them.
However, Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy said last night, "I also do not know what is in the report. Experts have gone into the issue (Telangana) in detail. Let us wait for them to submit the report. Let us see what is in it before making comments." (Read: Congress not divided by Telangana issue, says Reddy)
The Srikrishna Committee Report: