Congress’ divisive policy: Andhra simmers, six ministers resign

While home minister Sushilkumar Shinde speaks of consoling central ministers, around six ministers resign over government’s decision to bifurcate Andhra.

Two months after the Congress decided to carve out Telangana state, the union cabinet on Thursday formally decided to bifurcate Andhra Pradesh. With this the state of Andhra Pradesh is burning.

The decision triggered anger in Seemandhra which saw six central ministers from Seemandhra region tendering their resignation to the prime minister on Thursday night itself.

Congress MPs U. Arun Kumar Ananta Venkatarami Reddy and Sai Pratap, minister of Textiles K.S. Rao and Minister of Human Resource Development Pallam Raju resigned later in the night. Ministers of State K. Chiranjeevi too faxed his resignation to the prime minister on Thursday.

Other ministers too said that they have resigned, but there is no confirmation if they sent their resignation letters to the prime minister.

Pallam Raju had called the prime minister immediately after the cabinet meeting to convey his decision to quit. However, Manmohan Singh had advised him not to act in haste.

Looking at the grave situation, Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde on Friday said the central government will have to take the Seemandhra ministers into confidence and “console” them over bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh.

“They are our colleagues, we will see they remain in the cabinet. They have expressed their concern and we will have to take them into confidence and we will try our level best,” he said.

Speaking to media persons here he added: “After all, when there is bifurcation of state such feelings are there. No one can avoid this, we will have to console them.”

Meanwhile, shops, businesses, transport and educational institutions were closed in all 13 districts of Seemandhra – as the Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra regions are jointly called – as a 48-hour shutdown began Friday morning to protest the union cabinet’s decision to carve a separate Telangana state.

Opposing the state’s division, protestors took to the streets forcing closure of hotels and shops and burning tyres on main roads. They erected road blocks on the state and national highways, bringing all traffic to a complete halt.

Burning effigies of Congress leaders and raising slogans of “Jai Samaikyandhra” (Long live united Andhra), the protestors brought to virtual standstill Visakhapatnam, Vijayawada, Guntur, Tirupati, Anantapur, Kurnool and other towns.

Vehicular traffic from and to the neighbouring states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Odisha came to a halt as protestors blocked the national highways in response to the call given by Andhra Pradesh Non-Gazetted Officers (APNGOs) Association, which represents striking government employees in Seemandhra.

APNGOs had called for 48-hour shutdown while the YSR Congress party and district units of Samaikyandhra Joint Action Committee had appealed for 72-hour shutdown. APNGOs had also called for closure of all central government offices and banks.

While buses of the state-owned transport corporation are off the roads for nearly two months due to the indefinite strike by the employees, the private vehicles were also taken off due to the shutdown, causing severe inconvenience to commuters.

More than six lakh government employees, teachers and workers are on indefinite strike since Aug 13 to protest the July 30 decision of the Congress party to create a separate Telangana state. The union cabinet Thursday approved the formation of the new state.

Seemandhra went on high alert since Thursday evening. Security was beefed up at the residences of central and state ministers, members of parliament and the state legislature in view of the widespread protests.

Police and paramilitary forces were deployed in large numbers to maintain law and order across the region.

Moreover, YSR Congress president Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy on Friday said the decision to divide Andhra Pradesh had pained him.

Reddy will launch an indefinite fast from Saturday to protest the decision to bifurcate Andhra Pradesh by carving out a Telangana state.

He told reporters today that he would fast in front of the YSR Congress office to demand that the central government should take back its decision.

Jagan, as the MP from Kadapa is popularly known, accused the Congress of dividing the state to earn votes in elections.

He appealed to the country and all political parties to stand up against this “injustice”, saying the central government will start dividing other states too in a similar “arbitrary” manner.

Jagan, released last week from jail after 16 months in a corruption case, criticized the central government for going ahead with Andhra Pradesh’s division even without a resolution in the assembly.

“Is it justifiable to split the state without an assembly resolution? What kind of democracy we are living in when people intentionally choose to ignore the assembly? Why is it different when it comes to Andhra Pradesh?” he asked, and pointed out that states in the past were divided after their respective assemblies had passed resolutions.

Jagan said the state’s division would lead to sever water scarcity in Seemandhra.

He wondered how a group of ministers can show a solution to sharing of river waters when existing agreements had failed to address inter-state disputes.

Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde had announced after a nearly two-hour cabinet meeting presided over by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday that a decision was taken to split Andhra Pradesh to create Telangana.

According to the decision taken in line with the July 30 resolution of the Congress Working Committee (CWC), Telangana will comprise 10 districts with Hyderabad as the joint capital of both states for 10 years.

The cabinet also decided to set up a group of ministers (GoM) to address issues arising out of bifurcation.

“The group of ministers will determine the mechanism to ensure appropriate legal and administrative measures for both successive state governments to function from the common capital of Hyderabad for 10 years and to ensure the safety and security of residents in all three regions of coastal Andhra, Rayalaseema and Telangana including guarantees of fundamental rights,” Shinde had said.

He also said the GoM will work out special financial disbursement for the residuary state of Andhra Pradesh for formation of new capital and to meet special needs of backward regions and districts.

With this decision, the government has started the process for formation of Telangana as India’s 29th state. As the decision fulfilled 50-year-old dream of the people, celebrations broke out in the region.

Telangana, a part of the erstwhile princely state of Hyderabad, was merged with Andhra State, which was carved out of then Madras State, on Nov 1, 1956 to form Andhra Pradesh.

The new state will have a population of 35.38 million and an area of 1.14 lakh square km.

-with inputs from IANS

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