Telangana Strike
A demonstrator shouts anti-government slogans during a protest demanding statehood for Telangana in Hyderabad, Sept. 20, 2011.REUTERS/Krishnendu Halder

Even as the general public and political parties are eagerly awaiting the announcement of the government on the Telangana issue before the set January 28 deadline, Congress General Secretary Ghulam Nabi Azad has hinted a delay in the decision, thereby enraging pro-Telangana groups.

Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde had announced after an all-party meeting on Dec 28 that the government would take a decision on Telangana within a month's time.

Azad said that the centre is making serious effort to solve the statehood issue as early as possible but said that it could take longer than expected to come up with the final decision.

"He (the home minister) had said the decision would come within a month and that does not mean always mean 30 days," DNA quoted Azad as saying. "We are still discussing the issue which is very sensitive and as such don't expect any decision so soon just because the home minister said on December 28 that the decision would be taken within a month."

"The meetings are going on and let's not strictly go by the timeline. Sometimes one week need not necessarily mean seven days. Similarly, one month need not exactly be one month. We have lost half a week in (Chintan) shivir, 25th, 26th and 27th this month are holidays. It (Telangana) is an important issue and we shall work towards resolving it," he added.

Telangana political leaders met Azad at his residence on Wednesday night as they were not happy with his statement. They alleged that the Seemandhra leaders are delaying tactics.

"If the Centre wanted to delay a decision, it should have made a statement earlier. What is the use of trying to find excuses when everybody was hopeful of a positive decision," Karimnagar MP Ponnam Prabhakar told The Hindu.

"We have always been expecting this. In fact, we had never expected that the Congress would come up with a solution as promised and this is not the first time the Congress has gone back on its promise. It is unfortunate that Azad is contradicting the statements made by the home minister after the all party meeting," Harish Rao, a senior leader and MLA of the KCR-led TRS, told DNA.

Security has been beefed up in the state anticipating trouble over the delay in the decision on the sensitive issue. The Home Ministry has sent around 5,000 security personnel to avoid any untoward happenings in the state.

Two groups - one that supports a separate Telangana state and the other that wants an undivided Andhra Pradesh - met central leaders including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde on Tuesday but failed to get any assurance from them.

The six-member Srikrishna Committee headed by former chief justice B. N. Srikrishna had suggested a few options in its report that was presented to the Ministry of Home Affairs in December, 2010. But the government is reportedly considering only two options - formation of a separate Telangana state or keep Andhra Pradesh intact by forming the Autonomous Telangana Regional Council, which would look into the social, political and economic developments of the region.

The supporters of a separate Telangana state are not willing to settle for the council, and the anti-Telangana group is adamant on keeping Andhra Pradesh state undivided.

Politicians from the state are also divided on this sensitive issue with some of them supporting the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh into Telangana and Seemandhra states while others oppose it.