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Cheers, quit queue on two sides

Hyderabad, Feb. 18: The passage of the statehood bill spurred jubilation across Hyderabad and towns and villages of Telangana as activists and sympathisers hit the streets with flags shouting “Jai Telangana”.

Five state ministers and nine MLAs from the Seemandhra region resigned in protest over the bifurcation of the state.

Pepper sprayer Lagadapati Rajagopal resigned as MP today, and Union ministers D. Purandheshwari and M.M. Pallam Raju have again put in their papers. The Prime Minister had not accepted their resignations earlier.

Chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy said he would resign tomorrow. He is expected to lead about half-a-dozen state ministers and a handful of MLAs to the governor and tender his resignation. “The CM will decide on forming a new party after February 21,” said minister Kasu Krishna Reddy, who has also put in his papers.

The YSR Congress and a student outfit have called bandhs in Seemandhra tomorrow.

Pro-statehood slogans reverberated at Telangana Bhavan on Banjara Hills, signalling the end of a three-year agitation and achievement of a nearly 60-year-old demand in flat 23 minutes by voice vote in Parliament.

Celebrations were marked with huge cutouts of K. Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) and Sonia Gandhi, put up at TRS Bhavan here and in district towns across Telangana.

The TRS politburo met at Rao’s residence in Delhi and decided to announce the party’s merger with the Congress at a public meeting in Hyderabad in the first week of March, sources said. Rao and other senior TRS leaders will call on Sonia after the Rajya Sabha passes the bill.

At Warangal, TRS workers burst crackers, distributed sweets, showered flowers and took out victory processions.

Statehood sympathisers offered tributes to Telangana martyrs at Gun Park opposite the Assembly. “The victory belongs to KCR, who single-handedly achieved statehood, our 60 years of struggle has been vindicated,” TRS floor leader Etela Rajender said.

The demand for Telangana dates back to 1956 when Andhra Pradesh was formed.

Anticipating violence, director-general of police Prasada Rao met chief secretary P.K. Mohanty earlier in the day to consult him on deployment of forces.

“We deployed paramilitary forces in Hyderabad, Visakhapatnam, Vijayawada, Eluru, Tirupati, Kadapa and Anantapur,” Rao said. Special paramilitary forces have been posted in the localities and colonies of Seemandhra scattered around Hyderabad.

“It (bifurcation) is a sad happening, but unavoidable,” said TRS president KCR, whose eight-day hunger strike from November 28, 2009, had triggered the movement for Telangana in recent times.

KCR has been camping in Delhi for almost 20 days after the Andhra Assembly rejected the bill. “I will return to Hyderabad only when the Telangana state is formed,” he had said. The TRS is planning a grand welcome for him.

The YSR Congress has called a bandh in the Seemandhra region, the 13 districts of residual Andhra, tomorrow. “It is literally a black day as the ruling party and Opposition BJP colluded to separate the state by blacking out even the telecast,” party spokesperson Ambati Rambabu said.

The Seemandhra Student JAC has called an indefinite bandh in the Seemandhra region, also starting tomorrow.

In Seemandhra’s Chittore, Kurnool and Anantapuram, anti-Telangana activists burnt effigies of UPA leaders and blocked traffic on highways.