Battling a swell of political discontent on the Telangana decision, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today stepped in to do damage control as resignations mounted and violence marred a bandh in coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions.
Three more MPs -- S P Y Reddy of Congress (LS) and K Narayana Rao and Nandamuri Harikrishna from TDP (RS) -- resigned today as the number of MLAs quitting the post went up to 130 which included D Venkateswara Rao, husband of Union Minister Purandeswari.
Singh received MPs from non-Telangana regions opposed to the division of the state and is said to have assured them
that "nothing will be done in haste".
The MPs, including Ministers Pallam Raju, conveyed to the prime minister the "mood" of the people for a "united"
Andhra Pradesh and that there was a "tremendous backlash" against the decision separate Telangana decision. The MPs also
met Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Home Minister P Chidambaram to convey their opposition to the Telangana plan.
Even as tensions rose in the state, Union Home Secretary G K Pillai waded into controversy saying that Hyderabad "will
always be the capital of Telangana", remarks that created an uproar in Andhra Pradesh and among non-Telangana leaders.
He beat a hasty retreat when he retracted the statement saying that was the demand of Telangana protagonists and that
a decision would be taken on the basis of a political consensus and by the government.
The Home Ministry issued a clarification saying Pillai did not say Hyderabad would be the capital of Telangana but that was what the Telangana protagonists wanted.
The resignation fever spread to various levels of political pyramid like panchayat ward members, sarpanches, mandal parishads and municipal bodies cutting across party lines.
Of the 130 MLAs, 76 belonged to Congress, 40 to TDP and 14 to PRP. Leaders of these parties also plan to begin relay hunger fasts from tomorrow.
Speaker Kiran Kumar Reddy said in the Assembly that he would take a decision on their resignation only after ascertaining whether it was done under duress or out of their own volition.
Facing the brunt of the non-Telangana anger in Congress, TDP and Praja Rajyam, Chief Minister K Rosaiah said in Hyderabad the resolution favouring a separate state would be moved in the Assembly at an "appropriate time" and he does not not have answers to questions on the time-frame for the purpose.
"I have been told by Union Home Minister P Chidambaram that they would advise me at an appropriate time for moving the Telangana resolution. So far I have not not got any written or oral order on moving a resolution," Rosaiah told reporters in Hyderabad.
Announcing the Centre's decision on Wednesday night, Home Minister P Chidambaram had said that the process for the formation of Telangana would be initiated and a resolution would be moved in the Andhra Pradesh Assembly.
On the MLAs resignation, Rosaiah told reporters that he was worried over it. But the resignations had not been accepted and the Congress has got a system to deal with such things.
He dismissed a suggestion that he has lost majority in the Assembly saying first of all the resignations have not been accepted so far and legislators from other parties have also resigned.
Rosaiah said the Congress leaders in New Delhi were trying to find out a suitable solution and resolve the crisis.
He indicated that he was thinking of reconstituting the Legislators Committee to look into the Telangana issue, which was constituted by the late chief minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy with him as the head.
The day-long bandh called by various political parties in coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions paralysed life in these regions and was marked by violence in some places.
The shutdown was peaceful and complete in the coastal city of Vijayawada while in Krishna district activists of Congress, TDP and Prajay Rajyam held protests in several towns and villages. In the other big city of Andhra Pradesh, Visakhapatnam, a group of Andhra University students launched a fast unto death. TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu appealed to people to remain peaceful.
In the Rayalaseema region, unidentified assailants set afire a post office at Kadapa in which documents and papers
were burnt. Bus depots were attacked at Yerraguntla and Kadapa, while a bus reservation centre was damaged at Pulivendula.
Protesting against the division of the state, several persons climbed cell phone towers and water tanks at Kadapa,
Jammalamadugu and Proddutur and threatened to jump down, police said. They were, however, persuaded to climb down by
Leaders and workers of Congress and TDP, students and advocates held rallies at Kadapa, Rayachoty, Yerraguntla and
Pulivendula. Trains were halted at Kadapa, Kodur, Obulavaripalle and Kondapuram. Rayalaseema Express, Mumbai-Chennai Express were among the trains that were stopped by the agitators.
Shops and other business establishments were closed voluntarily and the agitators forced the closure of banks and
government offices in Kadapa district.
In the temple town of Tirupati in Rayalaseema, the agitators set afire two buses, police said.
In Kurnool district, protesters pelted stones at the APSRTC buses at several places like Adoni and reservation RTC
centres, police said. Five cases were registered in connection with the incidents.