Hyderabad, Oct. 2: Sunday’s Telangana march is being seen as a warning to the Centre and the Andhra government about the collective might of pro-statehood forces in the Congress, Telugu Desam and the TRS if they come together.
But for the heavy downpour and the withdrawal of the TRS that chose to leave after hours of clashes, officials said the decision to allow the protest near Husseinsagar lake in the heart of the city could have been a disaster for the Kiran Reddy government.
Police had advised against permitting the march, which snowballed into a siege. Last night, intelligence reports submitted to chief minister Kiran Reddy said “the activists would have attacked not only the Imax theatre (near the venue) but also the secretariat”. The secretariat, though, had been shut for two days over fears of trouble.
Over 85 cases have been filed against activists, including joint action committee chairperson M. Kodandaram. He had declared a Tahrir Square-style occupation and refused to leave the spot, jogging memories of the violent statehood agitation in 2010.
The Congress high command, though, doesn’t seem too perturbed by the skirmishes despite rumblings of protest within — deputy chief minister D. Rajnarasimha and at least two other ministers were said to have expressed unhappiness at the police action.
The Congress central leadership is working on two strategies, both dictated by the need to buy time on Telangana and shore up its prospects in the 2014 general elections.
The first is to try and win over Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy, whose bail plea will come up later this week. The other is to persuade TRS chief K. Chandrasekhar Rao to merge his party with the Congress by promising him statehood later.
Jagan, who floated the YSR Congress after walking out of the Congress, is a votary of a united Andhra and has won successive byelections. If released this week, Jagan has said he will immediately embark on a yatra to counter a similar odyssey by Desam chief Chandrababu Naidu.
Rao has been in Delhi for almost a month and is said to have been approached by senior Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Vayalar Ravi, sources said. The Congress believes having both Jagan and Rao on board will help it almost neutralise the Desam, the main Opposition.