Stepping up the pressure on Congress leadership to rescind its decision on Telangana, a minister, nine MLAs and four MLCs from coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema today resigned as widespread protests continued in non-Telangana regions for the second day today.
Jittery over the fallout of the Telangana move in two other regions of Andhra Pradesh, two days after the Centre's ruling UPA and Congress put their stamp of approval on the proposal to carve out a new state, Minister of Infrastructure and Investment Ganta Srinivasa Rao put in his papers.
Compounding the woes for the ruling Congress, a spate of resignations followed with nine party MLAs and four MLCs putting in their papers. The MLAs handed over their papers to the the Secretary of the Legislative Assembly, while the MLCs forwarded their letters to the Council Chairman. The MLAs who resigned are J C Diwakar Reddy, Gade Venkat Reddy, Daggubati Venkateswara Rao, Venkataramaiah, Murali Krishna, Ugranarasimha Reddy, Bangaru Usharani, K Sudhakar and C Adinarayana Reddy.
The MLCs who quit are Mohammed Jani, Rudraraju Padma Raju, Gade Srinivasulu Naidu and Paladugu Venkat Rao. Though it was expected that about 30 legislators would put in their papers today, only 13 eventually did. One more MLA K Nageswara Rao claimed he had submitted his resignation to Andhra Pradesh Congress President Botsa Satyanarayana.
In his resignation letter addressed to Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy, Ganta said his conscience was not permitting him to continue as a Cabinet minister as the recent developments (over the state's bifurcation) were against the "wishes, sentiments and aspirations" of the people. "As an ardent supporter and as a representative of people wishing and praying for united Andhra Pradesh, it is very painful to note that the UPA government decided in favour of separating the state into two. "I strongly believe that the development is not at all acceptable to the people whom I represent. In view of the developments, I hereby tender my resignation from the Cabinet ministership," he said.
Meanwhile, protests against Andhra Pradesh's bifurcation continued unabated for the second consecutive day today with pro-united Andhra supporter taking out rallies and preventing public transport buses from plying. Protests were reported from various places in Krishna, East Godavari, Visakhapatnam, Kadapa and Anantapur districts.
While the hunger strike launched by students at Andhra University in Visakhaptnam entered its third day, lawyers did not attend courts as a part of their 72-hour boycott in Visakhapatnam and other districts. Some pro-united Andhra outfits have been observing a 72-hour shut down at places like Visakhapatnam. According to police, the situation was peaceful so far and no incident of violence was reported. Educational institutions and commercial establishments remained shut at several places in coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema, reports reaching here said.
Protests were held outside the offices and residences of some public representatives demanding their resignation to mount pressure on the Centre to revoke the decision. At least three policemen were injured in an attack by agitators in Anantapur town as incidents of stone throwing at government offices and damage to statues of former Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi were reported from there yesterday. Central paramilitary forces and state police have been deployed in sensitive areas to maintain peace and order.
In Visakhapatnam, a bandh called by the Samaikyandhra (united AP) Student Joint Action Committee and others protesting against the pro-Telangana decision of the Congress evoked a partial response with minor incidents reported today. Except private and government schools, normal life was not affected as government offices, banks and business establishments functioned as usual, though government and private schools, as well as colleges under Andhra university remained closed for the second day.
Road Transport Corporation sources said that it operated city and long route services since morning and there was no damage to buses in the district since yesterday. However, some shops and commercial establishments voluntarily closed their shutters. Meanwhile, a hunger strike launched by students' joint action committee leader Lagudu last night at Mahatma Gandhi statute at the Andhra University entered the third day today and student leaders organised a rally in Andhra university demanding that the central government reverse its decision. At Narsipatnam, nearly 20,000 students organised a human chain expressing their displeasure over the formation of Telangana.
Lawyers also boycotted courts as part of their 72-hour boycott, demanding that central government to keep Andhra Pradesh united. Students' joint action committee and NGO organisations staged a dharna today and demanded the resignations of AP state minister for infrastructure and investments Ganta Srinivasa Rao and state AP tribal welfare Minster P Balaraju. In all, 12 activists were taken into custody by the police. According to police, the situation was peaceful and no untoward incidents were reported so far today.