Mounting pressure on the Centre for an early decision on separate Telangana, 10 Congress MPs and 39 of its MLAs, including 11 ministers, and 34 TDP MLAs from the region today resigned from Parliament and Andhra Pradesh assembly.
Even as home minister P Chidambaram counselled patience telling them that the consultation process was on, lawmakers from the region took their campaign to a new level.
Seven Congress MPs met Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar in New Delhi and handed over their resignation letters along with that of two other MPs who could not be present. Rajya Sabha member K Keshav Rao met the Officer on Special Duty to chairman Hamid Ansari and submitted his resignation.
In Hyderabad, 39 Congress MLAs, including 11 ministers, resigned from the Assembly along with 34 TDP legislators.
Rao, who is spearheading the campaign of lawmakers from the region, dismissed criticism that the resignation was a "gimmick" and said they were identifying themselves with the people of Telangana, who want a separate state immediately.
"The Centre had on December 9, 2009 virtually announced a separate Telangana state. But it has not been implemented. We have been persuading them. Now, we are helpless before the people of Telangana," he told reporters.
Asked whether the MPs would withdraw their resignations, Rao said it could be reviewed if there was a "concrete assurance" from the Congress High Command on the issue within a time-frame.
The Congress has 50 MLAs from the region, while the TDP has 36 and TRS 11 in the 294-member Assembly. Congress has 155 seats in the House.
Chidambaram said the Centre has not taken a final decision on the Telangana issue as the consultation process in this regard was still on.
The resignations are intended to get the Centre take a decision on creation of separate Telanagana state over which it had appointed a committee that had given its report last year.
After submitting resignation for their MLA posts to deputy speaker Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka, a group of ministers drove to chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy's camp office and submitted their resignations – from the Cabinet – to him.
Four other ministers from Telangana, including deputy chief minister Damodar Rajanarasimha, chose not to follow in the footsteps of their colleagues.
Only five ministers – Jana Reddy, J Geeta Reddy, Ponnala Lakshmaiah, Komatireddi Venkat Reddy and Basavaraj Saraiah – came in person to the Assembly to submit their papers to the deputy speaker.
Saraiah carried the resignation letters of six of his colleagues to the deputy speaker.
"Our resignations are neither to defy the Congress high command nor to create political or constitutional crisis in the state. They are meant only to convey the strong aspirations of Telangana people to the Congress high command as well as the Government of India," senior minister K Jana Reddy told newsmen before leaving for New Delhi to confer with AICC leaders.
The legislators from Telangana were quitting their posts only under "inevitable" circumstances to find a solution to the statehood crisis, he added.
After a meeting with the chief minister, minister Sunita Laxma Reddy said they had explained the compulsions under which the ministers too had to quit their posts.