Protests erupt in Andhra Pradesh over Telangana issue

Hyderabad, July 4 (IANS) With the Congress party hinting at an early decision on the Telangana issue, protests began in Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra regions of Andhra Pradesh, also called Seemandhra, opposing any move to divide the state.

Samaikhya Andhra or the United Andhra Joint Action Committee (JAC) Thursday staged protests in Kadapa and Anantapur districts of the Rayalaseema region, demanding that the state be kept united.

Students took out a rally in Kadapa. They tried to lay siege to the district collector's office. The protestors raised slogans against political leaders for keeping silent over the centre's proposed move to divide the state.

In Anantapur, the JAC organised a similar protest, demanding that the central government not divide the state. Interestingly, the protests began a day after a minister from the region, T.G. Venkatesh said unlike in the past there was no public support to their campaign for keeping the state united.

In Hyderabad, Rayalaseema Parirakshana Samiti (RPS) founder Byreddy Rajasekhar Reddy Thursday began 52-hour hunger strike, demanding separate statehood for Rayalaseema region. He said Rayala-Telangana state (comprising Rayalaseema and Telangana region) would not be acceptable to people of Rayalaseema.

Byreddy alleged that though Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy, Leader of Opposition N. Chandrababu Naidu and YSR Congress party leader Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy all come from Rayalaseema, nobody was doing anything for the future of the region.

Byreddy, who quit the Telugu Desam Party to float the RPS last year, said Rayalaseema would not merge with either Telangana or coastal Andhra. "A separate Rayalaseema state is our only option," he said.

The Telangana Joint Action Committee (JAC), which is spearheading the movement for separate Telangana state, Thursday held a round-table meeting in New Delhi to garner support of various national and regional political parties.

The meeting passed a resolution, demanding the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government abide by Dec 9, 2009, statement that the process for formation of the Telangana state would be initiated.

Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh said Monday that a decision on Telangana issue was in the final stage. He asked the chief minister, Deputy Chief Minister Damodar Rajanarasimha and state Congress chief Botsa Satyanarayana to prepare roadmap if the decision is taken either way.

Two Congress MPs from coastal Andhra have already threatened to quit if the centre goes ahead with formation of the separate Telangana state.

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