New Delhi: Stepping in to defuse the Telangana crisis, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday said he understands the separate statehood demand and gave an assurance that the Centre will make all efforts to find a solution to the contentious issue soon.
   
Meeting a delegation of Congress leaders from agitation-hit Telangana region in Andhra Pradesh, Singh also told them that he would talk to Congress President Sonia Gandhi in this regard and put all their demands before the party's Core Committee.
   
As the general strike in Telangana entered its 22nd day, the leaders, including senior Minister J Geetha Reddy and K Jana Reddy, briefed Singh about the situation in the region and the "urgent need" for Centre's intervention as people were not in a "mood even to celebrate upcoming festivals".
   
The delegation that included Ministers, MPs and an MLC told the Prime Minister that the Centre should announce a "time-frame" for taking a decision on the separate issue as "time is running out."
   
"We briefed the Prime Minister of what is happening in Andhra Pradesh, in Telangana region. He knows the Telangana issue and the problems. We briefed him in detail about the strike that is being supported by every section of the society," Geetha Reddy told reporters after the 30-minute meeting at the PM's 7, Race Course Road Residence.
   
"He expressed his understanding and sympathies to us. He said we need to solve the problem. He also told us that we will try to solve it as soon as possible," Geetha Reddy said.
   
The leaders told Singh that they would assure that the safety and security of people of non-Telangana regions in Hyderabad would be protected if a separate Telangana state is formed.
   
They also asked Singh to advice Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy not to show "apathy" towards the Telangana region.

Geetha Reddy said Singh told them that he would talk to Gandhi on the issue and would place all their demands before the Congress Core Committee.
   
"He did not give us any assurance but he did tell us that he would talk to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and put their demands before Congress Core Committee," Reddy said when asked about the Singh's response to their demands.
   
She said the delegation members told Singh that there should be some kind of a "time-frame" like six months or so to arrive at a decision.
   
The leaders said the Prime Minister was "very much interactive" during the meeting and gave chance to all delegation members to give their views on the issue. The main demands that the leaders put before Singh were early restoration of power to towns and villages, which have been out of electricity for the past few days and dispatch of salaries to agitating employees.
   
Pedapalli MP G Vivekanand and Nizambad MP Madhu Goud Yaskhi said Singh gave a patient hearing to them and suggested that any solution that is arrived at should not create problems to other regions of the state.
   
The Telangana statehood demand is being vehemently opposed by Congress leaders from Rayalaseema and Coastal Andhra regions of Andhra Pradesh.
   
Vivekanand said they told Singh that people from other regions of Andhra Pradesh "need not fear" living in Hyderabad after the creation of a separate state as their safety and security would be protected.
   
"Hyderabad is central to the demand for a separate Telangana state. We explained to him the issues in detail. We also told him that the people are not even ready to celebrate their festivals," he said.

(Agencies)