Andhra Pradesh celebrated 50 years of its formation on Wednesday even as the festivities were marred by a shutdown in the state's Telangana region and the havoc wreaked by heavy rains in the coastal parts.
Chief Minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy reviewed a colourful parade and witnessed cultural programmes at the official function marking the occasion at the NTR stadium in Hyderabad. He listed the steps taken by his government since coming to power, especially in the irrigation and agriculture sectors.
He reiterated his commitment to developing the state into 'Harith Andhra Pradesh', or a prosperous Andhra Pradesh.
Heavy rains lashed parts of coastal Andhra resulting in widespread destruction.
Stray incidents of violence were reported from a few places in Telangana as Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) activists took to the streets and tried to stop buses and trains to press their demand for statehood for Telangana.
Over 200 leaders and activists of the party, including about a dozen legislators, were arrested.
The shutdown call by the TRS evoked good response in party strongholds like Warangal, Karimnagar and Nizamabad districts where shops and businesses remained closed.
The Hyderabad-New Delhi Andhra Pradesh Express was stopped by TRS activists for an hour at the Secunderabad railway station early on Wednesday. The train was stopped again at Kazipet in Warangal district.
Protests were held outside bus depots in several towns in the region in an attempt to prevent state-run buses from plying.
TRS called for a shutdown, saying the day should be observed as Telangana Betrayal Day.
On Nov 1, 1956, the Telugu-speaking areas of the erstwhile princely state of Hyderabad, were merged with Andhra state to form Andhra Pradesh. It was the first Indian state formed purely on a linguistic basis with Hyderabad as its capital.
The backward Telangana region, which comprises nine districts including Hyderabad, witnessed a violent movement for a separate state in the 1970s. TRS revived the movement about five years ago.
TRS recently pulled out of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government to protest the delay in creating a separate state.
In an effort to counter the TRS campaign, the chief minister said the founding fathers of the state had fought for a united state for Telugu-speaking people so that "we can all live as one family".
At the official function, Reddy said the state was formed with the blessings of 'Telugu talli' (Mother Telugu).
While arguing for a separate state, TRS president K Chandrasekhara Rao had recently stated that he did not believe in 'Telugu talli' and that there were no cultural bonds between the people of Telangana and the rest of the state.
With a population of 76 million, the state is the fifth largest in India and is known as the country's agricultural bowl.