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HindustanTimes Mon,28 Jul 2014

Congress leaders from Rayalaseema seek merger with Telangana

Aurangzeb Naqshbandi, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, August 20, 2013
First Published: 09:02 IST(20/8/2013) | Last Updated: 23:31 IST(20/8/2013)

Even as the Congress leadership grapples with the complexities of carving out a separate state of Telangana from Andhra Pradesh, a fresh demand from certain quarters in the ruling party has added a new dimension to the issue.

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During their meetings with the four-member party panel on Telangana, Congress leaders from Rayalaseema have now demanded the merger of entire Rayalaseema region with Telangana to resolve the tangle.

Congress sources had so far maintained that the demand to merge two Rayalaseema districts of Anantpur and Kurnool with the new state could be considered by a group of ministers that is proposed to be formed after the union cabinet gives its nod to a move to bifurcate Andhra Pradesh.

But these leaders have urged the panel, headed by defence minister AK Antony, that the central government should consider merging all four districts of Rayalaseema — Anantapur, Kurnool, Chittoor and Kadapa — with Telangana as the move would ensure equitable development of all the regions of AP.

“It will be extremely difficult for us to sustain it as a separate state. A complete merger with Telangana is the best option,” a Congress leader from Rayalaseema said.

In its 2011 report, the leaders argued that the Justice BN Srikrishna Commission had noted that Rayalaseema was the most backward region in AP in terms of resources and infrastructure.

In contrast, Telangana, which comprises 10 districts, is rich in natural and water resources. About 45% of the total forest area in Andhra and 20% of the country’s coal deposits are found in Telangana. Besides, perennial rivers Godavari and Krishna enter AP from Telangana and then pass through other regions.

On the other hand, coastal Andhra — with nine districts —has a largest (Bay of Bengal) seacoast from Nellore to Srikakulam districts, and major ports such as Visakhapatnam, Gangavaram and Krishnapatnam drive its economic growth.

The leaders claimed that the move will also settle the contentious issue of Hyderabad.

 “Since Hyderabad has no geographical contiguity with coastal Andhra it should go to Rayala-Telangana. Coastal Andhra can have a new capital,” another leader said.

Politically, he said the Congress will be the biggest beneficiary of the move as it will the party a decisive edge over YSR Congress and TDP not only in Rayala-Telangana with 25 lok sabha seats but in 17 constituencies of coastal Andhra as well.


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