Congress ministers reject mooted Telangana package

Hyderabad, June 19 (IANS) Andhra Pradesh ministers from Telangana have rejected the proposed package for the region, saying only a separate state of Telangna would be acceptable to them.

The talk of the central government mulling a package for Telangana sent the ministers belonging to the Congress party in a tizzy. Deputy Chief Minister Damodar Rajanarasimha, who also hails from the region, left for New Delhi while senior minister K. Janara Reddy will be leaving Wednesday evening to hold talks with the Congress' central leadership.

The central government is likely to announce its decision on the contentious issue by month-end, party sources indicated earlier last week.

The Congress leadership is understood to have decided not to carve out Telangana state as it may trigger similar demands in other parts of the country. It is likely to offer a package to Telangana to provide financial assistance for its development and some other assurances to the region.

Several ministers from the region outrightly rejected the proposed package. They expressed their views while talking to reporters in the lobbies of the assembly Wednesday.

Information and Public Relations Minister D.K. Aruna said separate statehood to Telangana alone would satisfy them, while Information Technology Minister Ponnala Laksmiaha said a package was not a solution to the problem.

Their colleagues D. Sridhar Babu and Basvaraju Saraiah voiced similar views.

Jana Reddy, who is leading the pro-Telangana leaders of the Congress party, is still hopeful that the party would take a positive decision. He said the talks of a package were mere speculations.

Jana Reddy made it clear that he would not accept even the post of the chief minister without the formation of Telangana. "If Congress party carves out Telangana state, I will spend rest of my life serving the party," he said.

The ministers, MPs and legislators from Telangana had Tuesday decided to write to party president Sonia Gandhi to take an early decision on the separate state. They also plan to organize a public meeting in Hyderabad on June 30.

Congress general secretary Ghulam Nabi Azad had said on June 3 that the Congress would take a decision on Telangana issue this month.

The party leadership intensified its efforts during the last few days to find a solution to the complex problem.

Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) has also made it clear that nothing short of separate Telangana state would be acceptable to people of the region. TRS floor leader in the assembly E. Rajender said the people want Telangana state as it existed before the merger with Andhra in 1956.

Another TRS legislator, P. Srinivas Reddy said they would never accept a package.

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