Telengana meeting over, stalemate continues

New Delhi, Jan 5 (IANS) The multi-party meeting chaired by union Home Minister P. Chidambaram to discuss statehood for Telangana ended in a logjam Tuesday with no consensus on the controversial issue.

TRS chief K. Chandrasekhar Rao, who is spearheading the agitation for a separate Telangana state to be carved out of Andhra Pradesh, said no decision was taken at the meeting. ‘We are waiting for the final response’ from the central government, he told reporters.

The leaders of eight political parties from Andhra Pradesh who attended the talks appealed for peace and harmony in Andhra Pradesh.

‘We representatives of eight recognised political parties of Andhra Pradesh attended the meeting convened by the home minister. We have expressed our views at the meeting and they have been noted by the central government…. It is our earnest appeal that peace, harmony and law and order should be maintained in the state,’ they said in a joint statement issued at the end of the meeting.

Chidambaram also pitched for a halt to agitations in the state.

‘We must recognise the fundamental importance of restoring normalcy in Andhra Pradesh. There must be a halt to agitations and bandhs. Law and order must be maintained. Children must go to schools and colleges. People must be allowed to carry on their normal day-to-day activities,’ the home minister told the meeting.

Representatives of the Congress, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS), the Communist Party of India and the Communist Party of India-Marxist, the Praja Rajyam Party, the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen took part in the talks.

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Text of Chidambaram’s opening remarks

“I welcome you to this consultation on the issues arising out of the recent agitations in Andhra Pradesh in favour of and against a separate State of Telangana. We have invited the eight recognised political parties in Andhra Pradesh to this consultation. The founding fathers believed – and we believe – that parliamentary democracy is the best form of representative government and has the capacity to find solutions to all issues and problems. Debate, discussion and consultation are the best means to resolve differences and find answers. Political parties are integral to a parliamentary form of democracy. The wishes and aspirations of the people are reflected by the political parties. The argument that parliamentary democracy can be sustained without political parties is an argument that has to be stated to be rejected.

Each one of you represents a recognisedpolitical party and, therefore, I would respectfully submit that each one of you bears a responsibility to help in resolving the differences and finding appropriate answers.

There are a number of misconceptions surrounding the issues that have brought us here today. There is a misconception that the Central Government acted in haste; that the political parties were not consulted; and that I, as Home Minister, acted as an individual. As you are well aware, none of these misconceptions is supported by facts, but I shall not waste your time refuting these misconceptions. You are all aware of the long history behind the demand for a separate State ofTelangana. It is sufficient to refer to the report of the States Reorganisation Commission; the Gentlemen’s Agreement of 1956 and the amendment of Article 371(1) of the Constitution; the Six Point Formula of 1973; and the introduction of Article 371D in the Constitution. More recently, in the elections to the State Assembly of Andhra Pradesh held in May, 2009, the political parties outlined their positions in their respective election manifestos. All this is in the public domain.

The Central Government was concerned when an agitation was started in November, 2009 demanding a separate State of Telangana. Quite rightly, the political parties in Andhra Pradesh were the first responders to the agitation. You are aware of the proceedings of the Business Advisory Committee of the Andhra Pradesh State Assembly on December 7, 2009followed by the proceedings of the all party meeting convened by the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh later in the evening of the same day.

I wish to reiterate that the first statement on behalf of the Central Government was made on the basis of the minutes of the all party meeting held on December 7, 2009.

It is true that the situation on the ground has altered significantly since the all party meeting of December 7, 2009 and the first statement on behalf of the Central Government onDecember 9, 2009. Taking note of the altered situation, on December 23, 2009, the Central Government promised to hold wide ranging consultations with all political parties and groups in Andhra Pradesh. It is therefore that we have convened this meeting of the recognised political parties. As stated in my letter to you, the agenda is to “deliberate on the mechanism and lay down a road map for the consultations.”

I urge each of the political parties represented here to show accommodation and goodwill. Ultimately, you must find the answers and you must help the Central Government find a solution. The agenda for this meeting may appear limited, but I am confident that if we take one step at a time we will, eventually, find a solution. I request you, therefore, to give your views on the agenda. What is the mechanism that you visualise for the consultations with all political parties and groups in Andhra Pradesh? What is the road map for such consultations?

While we deliberate on these issues and take forward the process of consultations, we must recognise the fundamental importance of restoring normalcy in Andhra Pradesh. There must be a halt to agitations and bandhs. Law and order must be maintained. Children must go to schools and colleges. People must be allowed to carry on their normal day-to-day activities. Government must be able to focus on development and the welfare of the people. It is in the interest of all sections of the people of Andhra Pradesh that peace and harmony prevail while the consultations take place. I wish to caution all political parties that there are forces waiting on the wings who ridicule the parliamentary form of democracy and who would be happy if we collectively fail to find answers to the issues that concern us, and we should not give any room for these forces to gain strength or credence.

Let me conclude by saying that let us demonstrate the strength of our democracy and the capacity of our political parties to resolve differences and find solutions. I shall now ask each of the political parties to place their views on the agenda before us.”

KCR left disappointed

The TRS chief K Chandrashkera Rao came out of the all party meeting with an ashen face. It was evident that he was clearly not all happy at the outcome of the meting.

While there was no talk about separate Telangana, there was also no firm assurance coming from Chidambaram over the issue. Chidambaram even refused to set a firm timeframe for resolving the issue or conclude the consultation process.

KCR left the venue immediately without talking to the media. This was a clear indication that KCR did not gt the assurance that he was looking for from the meeting. KCR will give his reaction only after P Chidambaram comes up with a statement later in the evening.

Fact Sheet: Peace first, Telangana later

As expected, the all-party meeting called by Union Home Minister P Chidambaram at New Delhi on Tuesday to discuss statehood for Telangana ended without achieving any consensus among the political parties.

Chidambaram, who later went to meet the Prime Minister and apprise him of the outcome of the meeting, is expected to make a statement in the evening. “It was a good meeting and everybody expressed their views. It is quite clear that views of political parties are divided. I summed up their views and will take them to the Prime Minister and formulate course of action,” Chidambaram told the media after the meeting.

He said the political parties were keen on completing the consultation process within a specific time frame. “I appeal to state government and political parties to maintain peace. Political parties are not opposed to the idea of a mechanism being put in place. All political parties have decided there will be further consultation on this issue,” added the Home Minister.

The only consensus achieved at the meeting was on achieving peace, harmony and law and order in the State. The parties then signed a joint statement which read: “We representatives of eight recognised political parties of Andhra Pradesh attended the meeting convened by the Home Minister. We have expressed our views at the meeting and they have been noted by the Central Government. Meanwhile, it is our earnest appeal that peace, harmony and law and order should be maintained in the state.”

AP heading towards President Rule?

Indications are that Andhra Pradesh is heading towards the President’s Rule very soon, in the wake of volatile political situation in the state.

One would get this feeling on seeing the face of Chief Minister K Rosaiah after he came out of the all-party meeting conducted by Home Minister P Chidambaram on Tuesday. In-charge Governor ESL Narasimhan, who is presently in Delhi, is understood to have submitted a report to the Home Ministry stating that the only way to bring normalcy in the state at present is to impose the President’s Rule.

Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen president Asaduddin Owaisi, too, suggested to Chidambaram at the meeting that President’s Rule should be imposed in order to restore normalcy in the state. He, however, did not spell out his stand stating that it would depend on the decision to be taken by the Centre.

A clear picture is likely to emerge in a day or two, depending on the law and order situation in the state.

Chidambaram urges parties to help solve the Telangana puzzle

Home Minister P Chidambaram appealed to political parties in Andhra Pradesh to help the central government find a solution to the Telangana issue and made a subtle hints that Maoists would be happy if they fail to find a solution.

In his opening statement at a meeting of eight recognised political parties from Andhra Pradesh, he said the agenda is to “deliberate on the mechanism and lay down a road map for the consultations”.

“I urge each of the political parties represented here to show accommodation and goodwill. Ultimately you must find the answers and you must help the central government find a solution.”

He said though the agenda for the meeting may appear limited he was confident that “if we take one step at a time we will, eventually, find a solution”.

The Minister asked the parties to give their views on what is the mechanism and the road map for consultation among parties and groups.

Apparently hinting at Maoists, he said “I wish to caution all political parties that there are forces waiting on the wings who ridicule parliamentary form of democracy and who would be happy if we collectively fail to find answers to the issues that concern us and we should not give any room for these forces to gain strength or credence.”

Andhra Pradesh chief minister K Rosaiah, TRS leader K Chandrashekhar Rao, actor-turned-politician and PRP leader Chiranjeevi and his associate C Ramachandraiah, K S Rao and Uttamkumar Reddy (both Cong) and Y Ramakrishna Du and R Prakash (both TDP) are among those attending the meeting.

Six trains cancelled due to Delhi fog

Dense fog in parts of North India continued to hamper movement of trains today with six trains being cancelled and over two dozen running behind schedule.

The cancelled trains include Rewa-New Delhi Express, Ranchi Garib Rath Express, Lal Qila Express and Purshottam Express, a Northern Railway spokesperson said.

He said three trains on way to Delhi have been diverted due to fog.

More than 26 in-coming trains to Delhi are running several hours behind schedule.