In a tactical move, 35 legislators belonging to the opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) from the Telangana region on Tuesday sent their resignations to the convenor of the all-party Joint Action Committee (JAC), which is heading the movement for a statehood to Telangana.
However, the JAC itself is on the verge of a split with Congress MPs and legislators refusing to quit to protest the terms of reference of the Srikrishna committee set up by New Delhi to study the statehood demand.
TDP legislator M. Narasimhulu told reporters that 35 party legislators from the region had sent their resignations to JAC convenor M. Kodandaram. He said three others who were unavailable could not send their resignations.
One legislator has already submitted his resignation and it has been accepted by the assembly speaker.
Instead of submitting their resignations to the speaker, the TDP MLAs sent their papers to Kodandaram - to put the onus on him to get the resignations of Congress legislators.
Congress leaders from Telangana, who met here on Monday night, alleged that the JAC was acting at the behest of Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) chief K. Chandrasekhara Rao. They have decided to chalk out their own course of action on the issue.
Congress MP Ponnam Prabhakar advised Kodandaram, a former professor, not to work like a "postman" of the TRS and take into consideration the views of all parties before taking a decision.
The JAC had asked all elected representatives of Telangana to quit by Monday evening, failing which a series of protests would be launched against them culminating in their social boycott from Feb 19.
Prabhakar reacted sharply to the protests being held outside the homes of Congress party legislators and MPs.
"If they continue to lay siege to our houses, it will have serious consequences," he warned.
Only two of 50 Congress legislators from Telangana have submitted their resignations to the assembly speaker, who has not yet accepted them.
The speaker, however, accepted the resignations of all 10 TRS legislators as well as one each of TDP and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). One legislator of the Praja Rajyam Party has also submitted his resignation.
Both TRS MPs, including Chandrasekhara Rao, have also decided to resign.
There are 119 legislators from Telangana in the 294-member Andhra Pradesh assembly while the region accounts for 17 out of 42 MPs from the state.
Ignoring the JAC deadline, the Congress leaders said they would not resign and instead decided to write to party president Sonia Gandhi to revise the terms of reference of the Srikrishna committee and reduce its term to six months.
"We will inform her that it has become difficult for us to go to our own constituencies and request her to respect the sentiments of the Telangana people," said Congress legislator Bhikshmaiah Goud.
Central leaders of the Congress, Ahmed Patel and M. Veerappa Moily, have summoned the two party legislators who have submitted their resignations to New Delhi, sources said. The central leaders may ask them to withdraw their resignations.
The JAC has rejected the terms of reference of the Srikrishna panel as it includes considering the demand for maintaining Andhra Pradesh in its present form. It argues that the guidelines violate the Dec 9 statement of the centre to initiate the process for formation of Telangana state.