Oct. 3: The Union cabinet this evening approved the formation of Telangana, putting its seal on a decision the Congress Working Committee made two months ago, in spite of growing opposition from the rest of Andhra Pradesh where the chief minister tonight appeared to be preparing to resign.
Union ministers M.M. Pallam Raju, Chiranjeevi and K.S. Rao offered to resign after the cabinet meeting that has formally set the clock ticking on the bifurcation of Andhra, sources said. “I am very, very pained at the decision on the bifurcation…. I met the Prime Minister and offered to resign. He has told me not to act in haste,” Raju told PTI.
Union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, who announced the cabinet decision and said Hyderabad would remain the joint capital of both states for 10 years, promised that the security and fundamental rights of the people of coastal Andhra, Rayalaseema and Telangana would be protected. A group of ministers has been set up to work out the details of the division.
The home ministry had asked the state to be on high alert ahead of the cabinet meeting that accepted the 22-page Telangana note Shinde submitted. Accordingly, 20,000 policemen were deployed in the 13 Seemandhra districts and state police chief Prasad Rao reviewed the law and order with district superintendents and inspectors-general over videoconference.
Rao asked the officers to be vigilant, especially in Seemandhra where a bandh was on against the bifurcation and a fresh 72-hour bandh has been backed by Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy.
Heavy bandobast was reported from all major universities, where police have directed students not to venture into the streets.
Around 40,000 pilgrims were stranded in Tirupati, with the bus service to the Tirumala Hills hit by the bandh and protesters threatening to stop even private vehicles. An important ritual during Brahmotsavams, Dhwajarohanam, is scheduled for tomorrow evening.
Late tonight, chief minister Kiran Reddy and 22 of his colleagues from Seemandhra were preparing to put in their papers tomorrow, Congress and police intelligence sources said.
Two senior Congress MPs — Undavallii Arun Kumar, who usually translates Sonia Gandhi’s public speeches, and Subbam Hari — have resigned. Both were serving their third term and were expected to win a fourth.
The cabinet approval, which fulfils a longstanding demand of the 4.5 crore people of the 10 Telangana districts, was criticised by Mamata Banerjee who is grappling with the Gorkhaland agitation. She posted on Facebook: “It is reported in the media that the Union Cabinet has today cleared creation of the new state of Telangana. Five years ago, at the time of last general election, creation of a new state of Telangana was conceived. Now, after 5 years, just when another general election is knocking at the door, decision on a separate Telangana state has been taken. It is only a political decision and an election decision.”
Telugu Desam chief N. Chandrababu Naidu said without resolving Seemandhra’s fears, the announcement was meaningless.
However, Congress leaders from Telangana and the TRS backed the decision and said they would beat back opposition from Seemandhra.
Usually, the process of creating a separate state takes over four months. “But that time will be crunched,” sources in the home ministry said.
The group of ministers is expected to work out sharing of resources like water and power and present its recommendations in a month, the sources said. The home ministry will fine-tune the bill and send it to the cabinet. Once the cabinet clears it, the bill will go to the President who is expected to recommend sending it to the Andhra Pradesh Assembly and Council. It may be introduced in Parliament as early as the winter session, sources said.
The group of ministers will determine a special financial disbursement from central revenues for the residuary state of Andhra Pradesh to build its new capital and meet the special needs of its backward regions.