A day after the central government agreed to the formation of a separate Telangana state, Andhra Pradesh plunged has into political chaos with at least 92 legislators and several MPs from other regions of the state resigning or threatening to quit to protest the “unilateral” decision to divide the state.
As many as 39 legislators of the ruling Congress, 38 of the main opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and 15 of the Praja Rajyam Party (PRP) have sent in their resignations to assembly speaker.
At least 36 members of the legislative council belonging to the Congress and the TDP have also resigned.
As expected, a day after Centre agreeing to carve out separate Telangana state, political backfire has begun to spread, with 58 MLAs, belonging to different parties, from the coastal Andhra Pradesh and Rayalseema regions, resigning in protest.
So far 51 legislatures have sent their resignation. Of them, 32 are from the Congress, 17 from the TDP and nine from PRP.
Reports said that Vijayawada L Rajagopala, an industrialist-turned-politician and Congress MP, has stepped from the Lok Sabha. At least five other Congress MPs from coastal Andhra Pradesh may reportedly follow him.
Rajagopala had publicly opposed the bifurcation of Andhra. TRS activists have vandalized his home in the past because of his stand against a Telangana state.
Congress president Sonia Gandi will meet all party MPs from Andhra Pradesh at 4.15 pm on Thursday evening.
However, D Srinivas, Andhra Pradesh Congress chief, has said that there have been no resignation.
“All must reconcile now that the decision has been taken. There are no resignations. Please give them time to understand the decision,” he said.
MPs from Telangana too met Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to thank them. Sonia reportedly asked them to “be calm”.
The backlash reveals he deep divide both in the Congress and the TDP on Telangana issue. It may be mentioned that TDP had aligned with TRS in the Lok Sabha elections on an agenda that expressly promised a separate Telangana state.
In numbers, MLAs from coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema make up the sizeable chunk in the state Assembly, with only 119 of the 294 seats from the Telangana region.
Of the 157 Congress MLAs, 51 are from Telangana and 106 from the coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions and against bifurcation.
But the 14 MLAs from Hyderabad too are not willing to let Hyderabad go to Telangana, which leaves only 37 Congress MLAs in support of Telangana.
The state capital in fact is the main bone of contention, with the supporters of a Telangana state insisting that there can be no state without Hyderabad.
TRS leader KT Rama Rao pointed out that “Hyderabad has been the capital of the Telangana region for 400 years….we would not accept it without the city”. Congress MP from Telangana Hanumantha Rao too said Hyderabad would have to be part of the separate state.
But those against bifurcation say that Hyderabad should not be part of a Telangana package, if at all there is a package. There has been some talk of granting Union Territory status to the city.
The TDP’s case is even more piquant. The party’s traditional stronghold is coastal Andhra Pradesh. It fought the Lok Sabha elections with the TRS and other pro-Telangana parties, but party chief N Chandrababu Naidu has steered clear of voicing open support much to the chagrin of his allies. The TDP has 93 MLAs in the House.