The Telangana statehood issue remained in the spotlight on Monday.
The power blackout spread in Seemandhra as Telugu Desam Party chief N Chandrababu Naidu brought the issue to Delhi by beginning a hunger strike while a defiant Andhra Pradesh chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy of the Congress declared that he would neither resign from his post nor allow the creation of a Telangana state.
And to add to the UPA government’s difficulties, four union ministers from Seemandhra offered their resignations to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in protest against the union cabinet’s nod to the splitting of Andhra Pradesh.
In Seemandhra, the power blackout in five districts spread to all 13 districts of the two regions that comprise it as striking electricity workers refused to withdraw their agitation against statehood for Telangana for the second day running on Monday.
The silver lining was that the violence that erupted over the weekend subsided on Monday with minor incidents in the worst-hit Vijayanagaram town of Seemandhra.
The curfew and shoot-at-sight orders imposed in Vijayanagaram on Sunday remained enforced on Monday, with district authorities announcing an hour’s relaxation from 7am-8am on Tuesday.
While Seemandhra simmered, TDP chief Naidu began his hunger strike in protest against what he condemned as the Congress’ attempt to “play politics” through the state’s bifurcation.
Naidu, however, was non-committal on statehood for Telangana. "As a father if I have three children, I will treat all the children equally,” he said, referring to Telangana, coastal Andhra Pradesh and Rayalaseema. “We have to do justice for both areas (Telangana and Seemandhra), discuss with people of both areas, resolve the problem amicably. If there is a new government, we will resolve it within six months,” he claimed.
Naidu began his fast after a visit to Rajghat. Though he was reportedly denied permission to fast at Andhra Bhawan in central Delhi, he was there in the evening, continuing his fast.
Slamming the Congress, Naidu used the Italian word 'immobilismo', meaning standstill, to describe the Andhra situation. “The government in Delhi understands the Italian language. It is more appropriate for the government in Delhi and Congress party also," he said.
In a related development, four union ministers from Seemandhra met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Delhi and requested him to accept their resignations.
HRD minister MM Pallam Raju, tourism minister K Chiranjeevi, minister of state for commerce D Purandeswari and minister of state for railways Surya Prakash Reddy also decided not to attend office in protest against the cabinet’s decision to create a Telangana state.
Singh told them he will look into their request.
Meanwhile, Andhra Pradesh chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy Congress ruled out the possibility of the creation of Telangana before the Lok Sabha and assembly elections next year.
Reddy said he would not resign and as chief minister would continue to fight for a united Andhra Pradesh.
“My post is not important. It is not permanent. But the state is permanent. We must keep that in mind before taking a very important decision like bifurcation of a big state like Andhra Pradesh,” Reddy told CNN IBN.
Video: Seemandhra MPs ask PM to accept resignationFull Coverage: Telangana, a troubled stateREAD: Congress MLAs to vote against Telangana bill
READ: Power crisis continues in AP as anti-Telangana protests enter 4th day
Here are select quotes from TDP chief Naidu's press conference in Delhi
Naidu says he will use the Italian word "immobilismo to explain the situation in Andhra Pradesh because the Centre has failed to understand the severity of the crisis in the state.
Naidu says coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema are "immobilismo." "Things are at a standstill. Total standstill," he says in a dig at Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who is of Italian origin.
Seemandhra is burning for the last 70 days; nothing is moving: Naidu
I did my best to avoid Telangana's formation: Naidu
People have lost confidence in political parties: Naidu
Telangana decision muddled and opportunistic thinking of the Congress: Naidu
Congress has put self-interests over common interests - they wanted more seats, more votes and they're willing to sacrifice anything: Naidu
Congress is treating the Telangana issue as an internal matter of their party: Naidu
Congress released Jaganmohan Reddy so that he joins hands with them later: Naidu
Whenever there is an issue concerning society, political parties need to cooperate: Naidu
Common man in Seemandhra has lost confidence in govt, political parties: Naidu
What is happening in Andhra Pradesh - there is chaos, people have lost confidence in elected representatives: Naidu
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