The Centre’s decision on Wednesday to initiate the process for the formation of a separate Telangana state ran into rough weather almost as soon as it was announced, with the rest of Andhra Pradesh protesting violently.
With all major parties vertically split, the Congress and the Union government clarified that a “broad consensus” was required before the Centre could move ahead to carve out nine of Andhra’s 23 districts into a separate state.
Following the Centre’s decision, K. Chandrashekhar Rao, leader of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), which is spearheading the agitation for a separate state, withdrew his fast unto death on Wednesday night.
The Congress, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and Praja Rajyam Party (PRP), the three main parties in the state, were thrown into a tailspin as 93 MLAs, 34 MLCs and five MPs tendered their resignations — or have threatened to do so — in protest.
Fifty-three MLAs of the Congress, 30 of the TDP and 15 of the PRP resigned. All parties have given call for a coastal Andhra bandh on Friday,, terming the Centre’s decision “unilateral and unwarranted”.
In damage control mode, Congress president Sonia Gandhi assured party leaders from the coastal and Rayalaseema regions that all views would be considered before a final decision.
“We want a consensus and it has to form at the state level. It has not happened in the last 20 years and if a consensus is formed now, we will move forward,” said Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Sanghvi.
“Last night’s announcement was a re-statement” of the government’s earlier decision, Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram told Rajya Sabha. He had spoken to Rao and invited him to Delhi to discuss the matter.
TDP chief N. Chandrababu Naidu made yet another turnaround — this time to oppose Telangana — after the party’s leader in Rajya Sabha, M.V. Mysoora Reddy, resigned. Naidu had declared support for a separate state during the May elections, which he fought in alliance with the TRS. He said he did not promise support in the assembly for a resolution demanding Telengana. “We said we will discuss the resolution if it is moved in assembly,” he said.
Another pro-Telangana party, Chiranjeevi’s PRP, suffered a mass exodus with 15 of its 18 MLAs resigning. “First I am an MLA. I have to respect the sentiments of the people; the party comes thereafter,” said party MLA Ramesh Babu.
Protests in state Representatives of municipalities too joined the action with some 346 of them resigning in protest.
Students boycotted classes and took out processions. Seven hundred colleges in north coastal Andhra shut down.
Andhra University authorities have suspended all examinations till further notice.
There was sporadic violence with agitators setting fire to buses in Vijayawada and Anantapur and burning effigies of Rao and Chief Minister Rosaiah. Road blocks were set up at several places.
The demand for carving out separate Uttaranadhra and greater Rayalaseema states also revived.
Legislators of the regions plan to submit a memoranda in this regard to the Centre.