Telangana bill: Sonia's push, Congress' attempt to cut Andhra losses
Posted on Feb 18 2014 | IANS
New Delhi, Feb 18 : The push for passage of the bill for a separate Telangana state came from Congress president Sonia Gandhi, party sources said Tuesday, with party leaders having calculated that ambivalence on the issue would cost it dear in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
Congress sources said Gandhi conveyed to party's floor managers in the beginning of second part of winter session that the party was committed to the passage of the bill.
"Once the direction came, then it was our duty (to work for its passage)," a party leader, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told IANS.
The Congress had last week expelled six party MPs from Seemandhra region who were opposing the creation of Telangana in a display of its intent to get the bill passed in the extended winter session, the last sitting before the Lok Sabha elections expected April-May.
Andhra Pradesh has contributed substantially to the Congress tally in the last two Lok Sabha elections and the party was wary at its dwindling prospects in the state following sharp divisions among its own leaders on the issue of carving out separate state of Telangana, said the sources.
They said that Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government had started the process for creation of separate state of Telangana and the party's prospects were on the decline in the Seemandhra region of Andhra Pradesh.
They said that YSR Congress had been gaining ground in Seemandhra and if the party had not gone ahead with creation of Telangana, it would have incurred major losses in that region also.
Telangana region has 17 of 42 Lok Sabha seats in Andhra Pradesh.
A Congress MP said that several of its leaders from Seemandhra were against bifurcation of the state but there were some who had not expressed disagreement with the decision to carve out Telangana.
"There was a feeling that the bifurcation was being opposed by leaders who had major businesses stakes in Hyderabad," he said.
He said a few party MPs from Seemandhra were still confident of retaining their seats.
The MP said that with the bill on formation of Telangana was expected to be passed in the extended winter session, the party had hopes of Telangana Rashtra Samithi merging with the party.
"We hope to do very well in Telangana region and also win some seats in Seemandhra," he said.
Aseembly polls in Andhra Pradesh are also expected to be held with the Lok Sabha elections.