Hyderabad / New Delhi: The ruling Congress party on Monday bought crucial time to deal with the crisis triggered in its Andhra Pradesh unit by the Centre’s endorsement of demands for the state’s bifurcation, with the state assembly getting adjourned sine die.
Inflamed passions: Activists of the Telugu Desam Party burnt effigies of senior Congress leaders during a protest on 12 December. The southern state has been roiled by protests and counter-protests since the Union government on Wednesday said it would initiate moves towards the creation of a Telangana state. Mahesh Kumar A / AP
As the adjournment led to a let-up in the campaign for the creation of a separate Telangana state, the Congress leadership opened up channels of discussion with various groups to resolve differences inside the party over the state’s proposed division.
Monday’s discussions between senior party leaders and members of Parliament (MPs) from Andhra Pradesh, who are strongly divided on the issue, weakened the possibility of President’s rule being imposed in the state.
However, the Congress party’s official stand that the state assembly has to pass a resolution to go ahead with the creation of a new state left MPs from the Telangana region disappointed. Congress MPs from Telangana met in New Delhi late evening to prepare their strategy.
The state assembly has 175 law makers from the coastal Andhra and Rayalseema regions who oppose the division of Andhra Pradesh and 119 from the Telangana region.
“The assembly will never pass a resolution favouring Telangana. If the party is taking such a stand, it will be a betrayal,” said a party politician from the Telangana region, who didn’t want to be named.
“We could also turn to violence to counter what is happening in the other side. But we trust our leadership and hope that they will fulfil the promise given to people of Telangana,” said Madhu Goud Yaskhi, an MP from Nizamabad in Andhra Pradesh.
MPs opposing Telangana pressed the government to make an announcement that it would act only if there is a resolution by the assembly on the creation of Telangana. However, according to a senior minister in the cabinet, Union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, who met the MPs in his office, refused to make a such a statement.
Party spokesperson Shakeel Ahmad told reporters: “The party has already said there has to be a consensus. The state assembly has to pass a resolution… The government had said the proposal would come from the assembly.”
Three Congress MPs from Andhra Pradesh claimed that the party leadership has assured those who are opposing the division of the state that there would not be any development towards the creation of Telangana unless there is a consensus.
“Now that the assembly is adjourned sine die, we have time and will discuss the issue to evolve a consensus,” said Arun Kumar, a Congress MP.
In Hyderabad, a deadlock over the resignation of state law makers opposed to the creation of Telangana forced the indefinite adjournment of the Andhra Pradesh assembly amid uproar on Monday. Legislative affairs minister D. Prasada Rao said it was not possible to conduct assembly proceedings when the atmosphere in the state was surcharged and many legislators had handed in their resignations.
The adjournment came amid uproar caused by members who chose to attend the assembly, which hadn’t transacted any business in the session that began on 7 December except pass a condolence resolution in memory of late chief minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy. The legislative council was also adjourned indefinitely
The southern state has been roiled by protests and counter-protests since the Union government on Wednesday said it would initiate moves towards the creation of a Telangana state, bowing to an 11-day protest fast by Telangana Rashtra Samithi leader K. Chandrasekhar Rao.
At least 76 of the Congress party’s 157 assembly members and many opposition law makers belonging to the coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions have resigned to protest the decision. Still, Union law minister Veerappa Moily said there was no constitutional crisis in Andhra Pradesh and ruled out the possibility of imposing President’s rule in the state. He also ruled out the possibility of replacing chief minister K. Rosaiah.
According to the Congress MP from Vijayawada, Lagadapati Rajagopal, a majority of the state law makers oppose bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh. He said at least 225 of the 294 state assembly members would vote against the move.
Tension prevailed at the Hyderabad airport on Monday when Rajagopal was taken into custody as a preventive measures by the police on his landing from Delhi. He was shifted to a police station nearby and later on to chief minister Rosaiah’s residence. Hundreds of his followers, shouting slogans in favour of a united Andhra Pradesh, were also taken into custody.
On the advice of the chief minister, Rajagopal decided to go back on his “fast-unto-death” programme and take up a “padayatra” (road journey) across all the 23 districts of the state to campaign against the state’s bifurcation.
The Andhra Pradesh crisis has hurt all poltical parties. N. Chandrababu Naidu, chief of Andhra Pradesh’s main opposition Telugu Desam Party, said all parties in the state had failed to assess the ground realities and public mood across the three regions of Andhra Pradesh.
“The government of India has made it a fully complicated issue now... It is now for the government of India to douse the fire,” he told a press conference in Hyderabad, blaming what he called a “hasty and thoughtless decision” by the Centre to create Telangana for stoking the crisis.
PTI contributed to this story.