Approaching the Srikrishna panel

Hyderabad: EVER since the Terms of Reference (ToR) of the Justice B N Srikrishna Committee were announced on February 12, there has been a lot of debate among those for and against Telangana on how to approach it.

Each political party, for that matter, each concerned person, is on record expressing quite contrary opinions about the committee — welcoming or dismissive; wishing to submit a petition or to boycott it.

It is two weeks since the announcement of the ToR and a week after a public notification was issued and yet things do not seem to have settled down.

However, according to the notification, people who wish to submit their memoranda do not have much time to deliberate, since the committee has stipulated only thirty days’ time to do so.

Even as one discusses whether to participate in or boycott the committee, it is pertinent to go into a brief history to understand the apprehensions of Telangana votaries over participating in the proceedings and the call from some quarters to boycott the committee.

The constitution of the committee preceded at least three important developments during December 2009 and January 2010.

The first was an announcement by Union Home Minister P Chidambaram on December 9 about “initiating the process of Telangana State formation’’.

That historic statement was followed by another statement on December 23, wherein the Home Minister recognized the need to have wide-ranging consultations, and almost retracted his earlier statement.

As a consequence of this shift, a meeting of recognized political parties in Andhra Pradesh was held in New Delhi on January 5, under the auspices of the Home Ministry, and it was decided to set up a committee to go into the matter. The appointment of a five-member committee under the chairmanship of Justice B N Srikrishna on February 3 was the followup.

If the statement of December 9 talked about the process of State formation and the statement of 23 about consultations without mentioning the process, there was scope that they could be read differently, if not contradictory to each other.

Thus it is widely apprehended that the committee evolved out of the spirit of December 23 might go against the spirit of December 9.

One might easily discount the attribution of any ill motive to the appointment of the committee, but the delay involved and the drafting of the ToR certainly give room to valid doubts.

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