Telangana report: Chidambaram says 'read with open mind'

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New Delhi: Andhra Pradesh waits on edge as a report that could decide the state's future is discussed in Delhi between the Home Minister and the leaders of five different political parties from the state. Three main parties - Chandrababu Naidu's TDP, the BJP, and K Chandrasekhar Rao's TRS - are boycotting the meeting. They say there's nothing to discuss - a separate state for Telangana has to be created. "I deeply regret the stand taken by them. It does scant justice to the valuable work done," said Home Minister P Chidambaram at the meeting. "Nevertheless, I propose to send a copy of the report to the parties that have chosen to stay away," he said.

He then added, "I would urge you to read the report and the recommendations with an open mind and be prepared to persuade, and to be persuaded by, people who hold another point of view." The Home Minister suggested that the group meet again later this month after regional leaders have read the report.

The document that will be made public after the Home Minister's session has been prepared by the Srikrishna Committee which was set up in February 2010 with the tough agenda of unraveling what "all sections of society" feel about the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh. There are three regions - Telangana, Rayalaseema and Coastal Andhra. Those from Telangana want Hyderabad as the capital of a new state. The other two regions object strongly, not least because of Hyderabad's commercial success as an IT mecca.

The issue is so complex that even the ruling Congress finds itself struggling to keep its politicians from Andhra Pradesh together. Leaders from Telangana met the Congress' central leaders last night and said they will not surrender their demand for a new state. In recent weeks, Congress MPs and MLAs from the Telangana region have threatened to resign if the union government does not stand by them.
However, Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy said last night, "I also do not know what is in the report. Experts have gone into the issue (Telangana) in detail. Let us wait for them to submit the report. Let us see what is in it before making comments."

Back at home, shops in Hyderabad and other parts of Telangana have been fortified against stone-pelting and other attacks.

The Srikrishna Committee does not state whether it's in favour of a new state for Telangana. Instead, it lists between four to six options for the union government to consider. Among them:

* Consider 'escalatory' model starting with small steps
* Divide state if 'escalatory' model does not work
* Hyderabad to be union territory if Telangana state is sanctioned
* Constitutional guarantees for different regions without dividing state

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