Congress ministers remonstrate as protests erupt over Telangana; 2 reportedly commit suicide

telangana protest July 31.jpg

Hyderabad: Several Ministers from coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema on Wednesday remonstrated with Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy the decision on creation of Telangana even as protests erupted in non-Telangana regions of the state against the contentious move.
Several ministers from non-Telangana region, who had threatened to quit if the Congress decided to carve a new state out of Andhra Pradesh, met Reddy and one of them - Erasu Pratap Reddy - said he had 'already submitted' his resignation to the party.
A group of ministers including T.G. Venkatesh, Erasu Pratap Reddy, Ganta Srinivas and Pitani Satyanarayana met the Chief Minister in the afternoon and discussed the fallout of the party high command’s decision.
"We (ministers and MLAs from the two regions) will meet again tomorrow and decide the course of action," Reddy and Venkatesh said after the meeting.
"Nothing has happened yet. Only the Congress has announced its decision. We are still hopeful that the process (to create Telangana) will not go through," they said.
Since Tuesday night, about a dozen MLAs belonging to the ruling party from Andhra-Rayalaseema claimed to have resigned their seats but sources in the Legislature Secretariat did not confirm having received any such letters.
Widespread protests were witnessed in several parts of Andhra and Rayalaseema regions with people taking to streets, organising rallies, demonstrations and burning tyres and effigies of UPA leaders as part of the bandh being observed today by different outfits.
Normal life was disrupted as educational institutions and commercial establishments remained closed and the services of state-run Andhra Pradesh Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) were suspended in Kadapa, Chittoor, Visakhapatnam and Krishna.
The agitators squatted on roads to prevent the buses from plying.
Two persons, including a home guard, reportedly committed suicide in Vizianagaram and Guntur districts protesting the move to divide the state. At some places like Eluru, incidents of violence were reported, with protestors attacking a private educational institution and government offices, damaging furniture and setting private vehicles on fire. 
Educational institutions remained shut across Andhra-Rayalaseema while lawyers boycotted work at many places. Tension prevailed in Anantapur district after police lobbed teargas shells on Samaikhyandhra protesters who pelted them with stones.
Hundreds of slogan-raising protesters took to streets and pelted stones on policemen near Arts College and other parts of Anantapur town, prompting the police to fire teargas shells.
"The situation is tense but under control. We had to fire teargas shells to disperse the protesters following stone pelting," a senior police official told PTI over phone from Anantapur town.
The protesters also allegedly damaged statues of former Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi at a few places, besides ransacking a Mandal Revenue office (MRO) in Anantapur, he said adding the agitators also attacked offices of BJP with stones and tried to lay siege to the residence of state revenue minister Raghuveera Reddy.
The police chased away the protesters at many places in the town and some of them have also been taken into custody, he said. In Vijayawada, students gathered at squares and held road blockades to protest the decision to partition the state.
President of Vijayawada Chamber of Commerce and Industry Velampalli Ramachandra Rao told PTI that commercial establishments were closed as traders supported the shutdown. Government employees also supported the bandh call.
The Bar Association of Vijayawada appealed to its members not to attend courts.
In Visakhapatnam, 'Samaikyandhra' students' Joint Action Committee (JAC) and various other organisations held protests. Students' JAC leader Lagudu Govinda, who launched a hunger strike on the Andhra University campus Tuesday night, said his agitation would continue till the Congress high command reversed its decision. 
In East Godavari, two platoons of paramilitary forces and as many BSF battalions were deployed as a precautionary measure even as a total bandh was observed in the district, Superintendent of Police Ravikumar said.
Some state-run buses were also damaged due to stone pelting following which five activists were rounded up, they said. Congress and TDP activists also clashed outside TDP office at Gokavaram bus stand in Rajahmundry but were dispersed later, they added.
In Guntur town, the proponents of united Andhra, including Congress activists, organised rallies demanding revocation of the resolution adopted by the Congress Working Committee for carving out Telangana from Andhra Pradesh.
Amid raging protests, Congress ministers and MLAs from Rayalaseema, who met this morning, demanded that the new capital be located in the Rayalaseema region.
"Kurnool (in Rayalaseema) was capital of Andhra state, but we sacrificed it for Hyderabad in AP. The state is being divided again. Hyderabad is developed. Now, it is not clear where the capital will be established. Our proposal is that we should get the capital, because we sacrificed," Law Minister E. Pratap Reddy told reporters after the meeting.
"Unless the package for Rayalaseema is specifically told to us, we cannot accept this," he said. "We will accept the new state only if we get our share of assured water (from river Krishna) and the new capital," one of them said.
Meanwhile, Telugu Desam Party president N. Chandrababu Naidu has asked the Centre to immediately constitute a committee of experts to assess the quantum of funds required to develop a new capital city for Andhra Pradesh.
"According to our rough estimates, a staggering Rs 4-5 lakh crore will be required to build a new capital and comprehensively create necessary infrastructure. The Centre should fund this and develop the new capital on par with Hyderabad," he said. 
Next: Sonia asks Telangana leaders to exercise restraint

Sonia asks Telangana leaders to exercise restraint 
New Delhi: Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday asked Telangana leaders to maintain 'restraint, brotherhood and cordial relations' with people of Andhra and Rayalseema regions as the process started for creation of a separate state.
A delegation comprising Union Ministers S. Jaipal Reddy, Balram Naik, MPs Ponnam Prabhakar, S. Rajaiah, P. Govardhana Reddy and a large contingent of state ministers from the region called on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Gandhi, and NCP chief Sharad Pawar to thank them for the Telangana decision. Rahul Gandhi was also at 10 Janpath, when the Telangana leaders visited there.
During the 20 minute-long meeting with Gandhi, the Telangana leaders also had a photo opportunity with the Congress President.
"You have to maintain restraint because some people may be aggrieved over the decision. Maintain brotherhood with people of other regions with whom you have lived for so long. Maintain a cordial relationship and give support to people from the other regions, who have settled in the Telangana region," Gandhi is learnt to have told the delegation.
Talking to PTI, party MP Rajaiah said that Gandhi was keen that people from non-Telangana regions living in Hyderabad and other districts of the Telangana region are given support and have a sense of belonging.
"We thanked her for the decision on Telangana saying it would be a red-letter day and assured her that we will co-operate with our brothers from other two regions. The fact is that they have settled not only in Hyderabad but in all other nine districts of Telangana and are holding key posts there.
"They never faced a problem and will not do so in future. They are living with us for more than 150 years and there was never a problem in maintaining harmony," he said.
Another MP Ponnam Prabhakar said that Telangana leaders have also decided to form a Sadhbhavana Group and meet the legislators and MPs from other two regions seeking their cooperation in formation of the new state for which Congress Working Committee passed a resolution yesterday. 

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