New Delhi/Hyderabad, Oct 3 (IANS) The cabinet Thursday formally decided to bifurcate Andhra Pradesh to carve out Telangana as India's 29th state.
Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde announced after a nearly two-hour cabinet meeting presided over by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh 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 said
He 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.
The government is now likely to send a resolution to President Pranab Mukherjee, who will refer it to the Andhra Pradesh assembly.
A bill for formation of Telangana state is likely to be tabled in the winter session of parliament.
Of the three cabinet ministers from Seemandhra (Rayalseema and coastal Andhra), two, Pallam Raju and K.S. Rao, attended the cabinet meeting and they reportedly registered their dissent over the note submitted by the home minister.
The cabinet decision triggered fresh protests in Seemandhra, with various groups opposing the state's bifurcation calling for a shutdown Friday.
Police went on high alert in all 13 districts of Seemandhra and beefed up security at vital installations and at the residences of public representatives.
The cabinet decision capped the day long developments in the national capital and in Hyderabad.
The Telangana issue was not on the agenda of the cabinet meeting but was reportedly taken up as a 'table item'.
While talking to reporters earlier in the day, Shinde had dismissed as speculation reports that the issue will come up in the meeting.
Ignoring the protests of leaders from Seemandhra, the government decided to go ahead with the state's division.
Around 30 anti-Telangana supporters Thursday protested outside Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's official residence where the cabinet meeting was held.
Holding banners and shouting slogans, the protestors called for 'Saving Andhra Pradesh' and tried to enter the prime minister's residence. Police took them away.
According to a police officer, the protestors arrived in small groups of two's and three's and assembled near the prime minister's house.
Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh, in charge of the party in Andhra Pradesh, appealed to Congress leaders from all regions to cooperate and abide by the decision.
On the Seemandhra leaders' demand that the Antony Committee visit the state to hear the views of people before any step is taken, he said the committee was not constituted to reverse the CWC decision.
He said the committee was looking into various issues raised by them and it would submit its report to the GoM.
The Congress set up a four-member committee headed by Defence Minister A.K. Antony in August to look into the concerns of people opposed to Telangana.
Acting Director General of Police B. Prasada Rao Thursday evening held a video conference with the inspectors general of police and superintendents of police of all 13 districts of Seemandhra.
Protesters took to streets across Seemandhra Thursday morning and laid siege to the residences of union ministers and MPs, demanding their resignation to mount pressure on New Delhi to keep the state united.
Congress leaders from Seemandhra met in Hyderabad and reiterated that the Congress Working Committee must reconsider its decision to carve out a Telangana state.
The meeting, attended by 14 ministers and about 50 state legislators, also resolved to vote against the resolution whenever it is brought in the state assembly.
State minister S. Sailajanath, who heads the Congress leaders opposing Telangana, told reporters that they remained committed to 'samaikyandhra' (united Andhra).
He along with other ministers later met Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy, who is openly defying the leadership by opposing the decision to divide the state.
The chief minister reportedly told the ministers that they will take a collective decision.