The political party launched by Telugu superstar Chiranjeevi has triggered a flurry of activity on the issue of separate statehood to Telangana region with the newly-founded Nava Telangana Praja Party (NTPP) threatening to declare self-rule on November 2.
NTPP, formed by former minister T Devender Goud last month after quitting the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), held its maiden public meeting here Wednesday night, a day after Chiranjeevi launched his Praja Rajyam party at a mammoth rally in the temple town of Tirupati.
NTPP welcomed Chiranjeevi's favourable remarks on Telangana while Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) chief K Chandrasekhara Rao, who is leading the movement for a separate state for nearly eight years, praised the actor, saying he was a force to reckon with.
The TRS, however, avoided direct reaction to Chiranjeevi's remarks.
Though he comes from coastal Andhra, Chiranjeevi told his maiden public meeting that his party would help in carving out separate Telangana, if the people of the region "feel that parting as brothers is inevitable".
Welcoming Chiranjeevi's comments, Goud set Nov 1 as the deadline for the formation of a separate Telangana. He demanded that the government adopt a resolution either in the assembly or parliament for according separate statehood to Telangana by November 1, the state formation day.
"If it does not happen, we will declare self-rule November 2. The name of Andhra Pradesh on all signboards and on all vehicle registration plates in the region will be changed to Telangana," he said addressing hundreds of party workers gathered from various parts of Telangana region on Wednesday night.
He announced his plans to intensify the movement by launching a 'yatra' from September 3, covering all 10 districts of the region.
It was November 1, 1956 that Telangana, part of the erstwhile princely state of Hyderabad, was merged with then Andhra state to form Andhra Pradesh for Telugu-speaking people. The backward region, comprising 10 districts including Hyderabad, reluctantly joined the new state but only after the government of India gave certain assurances to allay its apprehensions.
The region witnessed a violent movement for separate state in the early 1970s. Over 300 people were killed in the violence.
TRS, which revived the movement in 2000, had fought the 2004 elections in alliance with the Congress and won five Lok Sabha and 26 assembly seats. It also joined the Congress-led coalitions both in the state and at the centre but later pulled out, alleging that the Congress has gone back on its promise to carve out the separate state.
The Congress authorised party president Sonia Gandhi to take a final decision on the issue. The main opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP), which was strongly against the bifurcation of the state, changed its stand recently saying it was not against separate Telangana but formed a committee to take a decision.
Goud, who was considered number two in TDP and served as home minister in Chandrababu Naidu's cabinet, quit TDP last month after the party leadership rejected his demand that the party take a clear stand in favour of Telangana.
With the elections to the state assembly and Lok Sabha scheduled to be held in March next year, both the Congress and TDP are likely to come under pressure from their cadre in Telangana to take a clear stand on the issue.
Meanwhile, TRS chief K Chandrasekhara Rao said Chiranjeevi would be a force to reckon with. He, however, refused to comment on Chiranjeevi's comments on Telangana saying the actor was yet to take a final view on the issue.
"It is my moral duty to unite all pro-Telangana forces. We will not allow Telangana votes to divide on account of multiple parties," he said, referring to Goud's party.