All the major political parties which were gloating over the rout of the Telengana Rastra Samithi (TRS) in the recent by-elections and claiming that the Telengana sentiment is dead are in for a nasty surprise.
The separatist sentiment, already a major headache for the ruling Congress in Andhra Pradesh, hit the main Opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) on Monday when two top leaders including T. Devendra Goud, considered the No. 2 in the party, resigned from the TDP. Goud also resigned his assembly seat.
The resignation of Goud, a top backward classes leader, has come as a severe jolt to the TDP and its leader N. Chandrababu Naidu who is on a 150-day Ratha Yatra across the state to revive grassroots contacts in preparation for the 2009 assembly elections.
Goud, who served as excise, revenue and home minister at different points in time, had been in a running battle with Naidu on the Telengana issue for the past year but things came to a boiling point after the June 18 meeting of the core committee on Telengana where Goud was literally shouted down by those opposing division of the state.
Goud wanted the party to take a positive decision in favour of Telengana. Soon after, one of his close confidants, Sukhendra Reddy was served a show cause notice on a trumped up charge.
Before Naidu could show him the door, Goud resorted to a pre-emptive strike, surprising the TDP top brass. Soon after his resignation, another senior Telengana leader, E. Peddi Reddy sent in his resignation, expressing solidarity with the Telangana cause.
Sources close to Goud said a number of TDP leaders who are in favour of Telengana were in touch with him and may resign soon. They include MLA Kadiam Srihari, Nalgonda district unit chief Sukhendra Reddy and former MP S Venugopalachary.
Goud in his resignation letter said that he was resorting to the drastic step since some leaders in the party were attacking him for raising his voice in support of a separate Telengana state.
What irked Naidu in recent times was Goud’s sustained efforts to project himself as a backward class leader from the Telengana region. Goud had been attending conventions organised by backward class leaders of different parties and also all-party meetings convened by Telengana protagonists.