GoM on Telangana begins work, Seemandhra limping back to normalcy

New Delhi/Hyderabad, Oct 11 (IANS) The ministerial panel set up to work out modalities for formation of a separate Telangana held its first meeting Friday while Seemandhra started limping back to normalcy with electricity employees resuming work and teachers also calling off their strike though protests continued.

In Delhi, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief N. Chandrababu Naidu was Friday taken to the Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital from the venue of his fast at Andhra Bhavan even as hundreds of his supporters tried to stop police from moving him.

He seems to intend to continue his fast as he refused to accept a glucose drip.

The Group of Ministers (GoM) meeting in Delhi discussed a broad outline of issues on Andhra Pradesh's against the backdrop of widespread protests over the union cabinet's decision to carve out India's 29th state.

"The GoM discussed the approach and methodology to be adopted by it," said a home ministry statement.

Keeping in mind the large scale protests in Seemandhra (as the coastal Andhra and Rayalseema regions are jointly called), the GoM assured the state's people that all issues and concerns would be addressed with "fairness and objectivity".

It promised to take the "opinion of stake-holders on all important subjects while formulating its recommendations".

According to the home ministry statement, the GoM will look into various aspects like water sharing, finances, law and order, and formulating a legal framework.

Information will also be sought from the state government on these issues and the process will start immediately, said officials.

The next meeting of the GoM, on Oct 19, will be a full-fledged one and will discuss the bifurcation's parameters, said officials.

Andhra Pradesh secretariat employees from Seemandhra Friday called off their 38-day-long strike following talks with Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy in Hyderabad, saying he assured them the state would remain united as long as he was the chief minister.

Electricity generation and transmission was restored after five days as employees returned to work. They had Thursday agreed to call off their strike in view of the cyclone threat to the state. The storm from the Bay of Bengal is expected to hit land by Saturday night.

Over two lakh teachers also "temporarily" called off their strike after talks with the chief minister. The schools and colleges will reopen on Oct 17 after Dussehra and Eid holidays.

However, over six lakh government employees in all 13 Seemandhra districts continued their two-month long strike, with their leader P. Ashok Babu making it clear that the stir would continue till a clear assurance that the state would not be split.

Though employees of state-owned Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) are reportedly willing to end their strike, talks between their leaders and the chief minister did not take place Friday.

Various sections of employees ended their agitation after the chief minister assured them that the issue of formation of Telangana would be referred to state assembly twice, once for its opinion and the second time for voting.

He also assured that all legislators from Seemandhra would ensure the defeat of the Telangana state bill.

The employees' leaders said the chief minister quoted Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh as saying that the issue would be referred twice to the state assembly, after Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde's statement that the bill would be sent to assembly only for its opinion had created confusion among employees coming forward to call off the strike.

Protests continued in Seemandhra, with employees, students among others taking out rallies and formed human chains.

In Delhi, hospital officials told IANS that Chandrababu Naidu's condition is stable.

RML Hospital's medical superintendent H.K. Kar told IANS that the former Andhra Pradesh chief minister refused to be administered a glucose drip but drank water. Efforts were on to persuade him, he added.

Earlier in the day, there was high drama as scores of Delhi Police personnel reached Andhra Bhavan, where Naidu was on fast since Monday, to air his protest at the arbitrary manner in which the Congress decided to carve out a separate Telangana.

Seeing the police approach, angry supporters formed a ring around Naidu, shouting slogans and also vandalising the Bhavan's property.

A Delhi Police official told IANS that the supporters tried to stop police but Naidu himself stepped towards the ambulance, present at the Bhavan since morning.

At the hospital, a wheelchair was offered to him but he walked into the ward, said the officer.


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