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TDP, YSR, Congress change stands on statehood

Stumped TDP and YSR Congress out to capitalise on the agitation in Seemandhra; Congress leaders, fearing a rout in the region, are desperately searching for face-savers. Prasad Nichenametla reports.

india Updated: Sep 06, 2013 12:11 IST
Prasad Nichenametla
Prasad Nichenametla
Hindustan Times

The main political parties in Andhra Pradesh are changing their tune on Telangana statehood with a frequency that would leave even the most seasoned of political observers baffled.

As the central government embarks on creating a Telangana state, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and the YSR Congress have just begun their campaigns against division of Andhra Pradesh in Seemandhra - Rayalaseema and Coastal Andhra.

Till July 30, when the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government announced its decision to create a Telangana state, the TDP had supported the statehood demand while the YSR Congress had taken an ambivalent position, not opposing the move.

These two parties had calculated that the Congress would fight shy of dividing the state for reasons of political expediency. But when the Congress decided to bite the Telangana bullet, the two parties were stumped.

In a bid to regain some political ground, TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu launched his Atma Gourava (self-respect) Yatra from Guntur district in Coastal Andhra on Sunday, accusing the Congress of lighting a fire to separate two Telugu brothers — Telangana and Seemandhra.

"The decision of the Congress is a ploy to decimate the TDP in the state," he said.

Naidu, who hails from Chittoor in Rayalaseema, fears that a division of the state will deprive him of another opportunity to become chief minister of Andhra Pradesh - a post he held for nine years and yearns to re-occupy.

As for the YSR Congress, YS Sharmila (Jagan's sister) launched a campaign for a united Andhra Pradesh from Chittoor district in Rayalaseema on Monday.

The campaigns coincided with home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde's statement in Delhi on Monday that a cabinet note on Telangana statehood was in the works and would be presented to the union cabinet for approval in 20 days.

The YSR family hails from Kadapa in Rayalaseema and has few stakes in Telangana. All its MLAs and MPs belong to Seemandhra.

"As it is clear now that you cannot do equal justice to both regions, keep the state united," Sharmila demanded of the Congress.

But it's not just the TDP and YSR Congress who are up in arms. Congress leaders from Seemandhra, who earlier committed themselves to abiding by the party's decision, are now openly criticising the move and demanding a rollback.

None other than CM Kiran Kumar Reddy has struck a defiant note, losing no opportunity to establish his commitment to a united Andhra Pradesh. "In a democracy it is the people and their opinion that matter. If the decisions are not right, then people will not spare us," he said at a function in Hyderabad last week.

With the TDP and YSR Congress out to capitalise on the agitation in Seemandhra, Congress leaders, fearing a rout in the region if Telangana is created, are desperately searching for face-savers.

On Monday, two ministers met the CM to press for acceptance of their resignations submitted earlier. The next day, party legislators sat on a protest in the state assembly premises.

It is in this century-old imposing white structure that was the town hall in the Nizam era in the heart of Hyderabad where possibly the final round of the political battle will take place when the Centre sends a Telangana resolution for the assembly to consider.

First Published: Sep 06, 2013 00:08 IST