Jan 11, 2008

Chiranjeevi Gives Heartache To Sonia Gandhi

It was the Chiranjeevi factor that hastened the Congress to announce its intention to set up a second States Reorganisation Commission (SRC) for the creation of Telangana. The party’s original plan was to move on the SRC front only sometime around March this year.

Highly placed Congress sources told TOI that the Chiru factor assumed such significance in the party that an ailing party president Sonia Gandhi had to scribble a note to AICC general secretary M Veerappa Moily from her hospital bed last week to seek a report on the impact of the megastar’s entry into politics.

This was revealed by Moily to some Telangana Congress leaders at a meeting in the city late on Wednesday night, the sources disclosed. The meeting took place at the Lake View guest house in which seven leaders were present, including maverick RTC chairman M Satyanarayana Rao. “Sonia was concerned about the situation in Andhra Pradesh. Even while convalescing in hospital, she enquired about Chiranjeevi’s moves to form a political party. She asked me to submit a report on the electoral fallout of the entry of Chiranjeevi,” Moily told the Telangana leaders.

Once it became certain that Chiranjeevi is serious about floating a party (made clear at the 10th day ceremony of the actor’s late father), the Congress high command immediately swung into action. Moily, who heads the government Administrative Reforms Commission, got down to work and simultaneously the home ministry was directed to do the groundwork.
“Home ministry officials have worked out the details as to the process of setting up the SRC, its composition, terms and reference, and appointment of chairperson etc.,” the sources said. The idea is to keep everything in place so that things can be executed quickly once the Union cabinet clears the setting up of a second SRC, they said.

Keeping in view the fact that general and AP assembly elections are just 15 months away, there is a strong possibility of the SRC submitting an interim report on Telangana in the next six months, the sources added.

According to Moily, Sonia “wants a special reference to Telangana in the terms of reference of the SRC as well as a specific time-frame for the interim report on the separate state.”