Monday, November 29, 1999

Congress to submit views on Telangana before Srikrishna panel

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Hyderabad, June 17 (IANS) The Justice Srikrishna Committee, looking into the demand for separate statehood for the Telangana region, will hear the views of the ruling Congress party in Andhra Pradesh on the issue next month. The Congress is the only party that is yet to present its views on the contentious matter.Srikrishna told reporters Thursday that the committee has invited the Congress party to submit its arguments on July 5, 6 and 7.Though all the parties, including the main opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP), have submitted their arguments before the panel during last three months, the Congress had been avoiding a meeting.As the party is divided on the statehood issue along regional lines, two to three groups are likely to meet the committee separately to put forth their views.'We don't know how many groups from the Congress party will come to meet us,' said Srikrishna, who is heading the five-member committee.The Srikrishna committee had last month heard different groups of the TDP on the Telangana issue. The Congress had postponed its scheduled meetings with the panel on two occasions in the past.Leaders of both TDP and Congress from Telangana support the demand for a separate state while their counterparts from Rayalaseema and Andhra regions are opposed to it.To a query, Srikrishna said the committee would meet TDP president N. Chandrababu Naidu, if necessary, to elicit his views.The committee met 100 groups and 1,000 individuals during the last three months. 'We are in the process of gathering information and inputs. We are sure that the train is progressing on time and will reach the destination on time,' he said.The committee, formed by the central government in February after violent protests for and against a separate Telangana, has been asked to submit its report by December 31.The committee, which heard the views of various sections of the Telugu diaspora through video conference, has almost completed its process of consultations with various political and non-political groups.The panel will begin region-wise visits next month to elicit the people's opinion. It held a meeting with Chief Secretary S.V. Prasad as part of the preparations for regional visits and also to seek region-wise information from various departments.The committee's member secretary, V.K. Duggal, said they would not visit those Telangana districts where by-elections to 12 assembly constituencies are scheduled in August. He denied that the committee had urged the Election Commission to postpone the by-polls.

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