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Telangana bandh: Time for discussion on separate state, says Azad

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Hyderabad: As more resignations poured forth from leaders from Telangana across different parties, the Centre today indicated that it is open to a new round of discussions on whether Andhra Pradesh should be bifurcated.

"It is time for discussion on a separate state (for Telangana)," said senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad. He however made it clear that this is a "sensitive and complex issue" that needs "wider consultations His comments preceded a discussion with Congress MPs and MLAs who will meet with Mr Azad to discuss the resignations they have submitted, demanding that the union government make its stand clear on the issue of a new state for their homeland.

The volatility of the debate was visible in Hyderabad today. Schools, colleges and banks were closed across Telangana, and there was no public transport available in this part of Andhra Pradesh because of a bandh called by political parties who want a new state of Telangana to be sanctioned by the Centre. (Telangana bandh: Schools closed, no buses on roads)

Osmania University, the epicenter of pro-Telangana protests in the past, simmered with reports of some skirmishes between security personnel and students. A cloak of security has been thrown around the University.

Chief Minister Kiran Reddy is taking no chances and has requisitioned for extra security - 72 companies of Central forces have been rushed to Andhra Pradesh

The 48-hour bandh called by the Telangana Joint Action Committee will be followed by student rallies on Thursday and rail blockades are planned on Friday and Saturday.

KCR is back

The crisis is set to worsen, with K Chandrasekhar Rao and his party, the TRS, promising that "Telangana will burn" if the Prime Minister doesn't listen to the voice of the region. Mr Rao, who in the past has claimed the frontline of the separatist movement, has also faxed his resignation for the nth time to the Lok Sabha Speaker.

Today, all TRS MLAs will submit their resignations to the Assembly secretary.

Monday saw a spate of political resignations across parties, most visibly from Telangana Congressmen. Ten MPs and 43 MLAs of the Congress, which rules both at the Centre and the state, resigned yesterday. This number includes 11 state ministers and Andhra Pradesh Textile Minister Shankar Rao joined their ranks early today.

The resignations of MPs will only hold good once accepted by the Lok Sabha Speaker, who is away and returns on Friday. And sources say the Speaker is unlikely to take a decision in a hurry on the matter and will examine the letters submitted to decide if they were sent voluntarily.

But it's a sticky situation for the Congress. In the Lok Sabha, Andhra Pradesh contributes the maximum number of Congress MPs and the party can ill-afford such a crisis. If the Lok Sabha Speaker accepts the resignations of the Congress MPs from Telangana, the UPA government will have to rely more heavily than usual on support the Samajwadi Party's 22 MPs or the Bahujan Samaj Party's 21 MPs - a dependence it would like to avoid.

So today is devoted to a series of meetings with Congress men from Telangana. Senior MLA K Jana Reddy said, "Our state in charge Ghulam Nabi Azad called us. We have specifically told him either give us Telangana or accept our resignations. Azad has promised to talk to the high command and the Prime Minister."
In late 2009, it was KCR's hunger strike that sparked 11 days of violent, burning protests across the region, many of which saw students taking on the police, before the Centre gave in and announced that the process for forming a new Telangana state would begin. Parties in Andhra Pradesh, however, were whiplashed by leaders from Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema - who said they would not allow the bifurcation of the state. And so the Centre tried to rollback its misguided announcement.

KCR had largely kept a low profile since the Srikrishna Committee submitted its report as part of the Central initiative, but has now told party leaders to intensify the Telangana movement.

The math for the Congress in Andhra Pradesh

The Congress' keenness on extensive discussions with its partymen from Telangana is based largely on formidable math for its government in Andhra Pradesh. 43 Congress MLAs have quit, including 11 ministers. Out of 294 seats in the Andhra Pradesh Assembly, the Congress currently has 168 seats with the support of its ally, Chiranjeevi's Prajya Rajyam Party (PRP). But if 36 disgruntled MLAs switch sides, the government starts sliding below the half-way mark of 147.

33 members of Chandrababu Naidu's Telugu Desam Party (TDP) who are members of the Andhra Pradesh Assembly have also resigned.

Political analysts say that if the bulk resignations do transpire, President's Rule may have to be considered for Andhra Pradesh.

Read more at: http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/telangana-bandh-time-for-discussion-on-separate-state-says-azad-116860&cp

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