Telangana bandh: Andhra Pradesh on high alert; KCR plays ‘resignation card’ again

Hyderabad:  For the people of Andhra Pradesh, it is deja vu. The state is on high alert with a two-day Telangana bandh call. All schools and colleges in the region are closed; there are no buses on roads. And Telangana Rashtriya Samiti chief K Chandrasekhar Rao has played the resignation card yet again.

The state capital Hyderabad, which is part of the Telangana region, is bracing for yet another spell of unrest. There are prohibitory orders in place in parts of the city and a cloak of security has been thrown around the Osmania University campus – the epicentre of protests for a separate Telangana state. Chief Minister Kiran Reddy is taking no chances. He has asked for more security and 72 companies of central forces have been rushed to Andhra Pradesh.

The state does not just have the bandh on Tuesday and Wednesday to contend with. Student rallies have been announced for Thursday and rail blockades are planned on Friday and Saturday. On Sunday, July 10, community kitchens will be set up on the roads in all Telangana districts.

KCR is back

The crisis is set to worsen, with the TRS striding in to declare war. For the umpteenth time, TRS chief KCR has resigned for Telangana. He faxed his resignation to the Lok Sabha Speaker late yesterday and is expected to meet her in a day or two.

Monday saw a spate of political resignations across parties, most visibly from Telangana Congressmen. Eleven MPs and 43 MLAs of the Congress, which rules both at the Centre and the state, resigned yesterday. This number includes 11 state ministers and Andhra Pradesh Textile Minister Shankar Rao joined their ranks early today.
The resignations of MPs will only hold good once accepted by the Lok Sabha Speaker, who is away and returns on Friday. But it’s a sticky situation for the Congress. In the Lok Sabha, Andhra Pradesh contributes the maximum number of Congress MPs and the party can ill-afford such a crisis. The Congress leadership has asked its Telangana MPs and MLAs to be patient, but for now, that patience has run out.

In late 2009, it was KCR’s hunger strike that sparked 11 days of violent, burning protests across the region, many of which saw students taking on the police, before the Centre gave in and announced that the process for forming a new Telangana state would begin.  Parties in Andhra Pradesh, however, were whiplashed by leaders from Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema – who said they would not allow the bifurcation of the state. And so the Centre tried to rollback its misguided announcement.

KCR had largely kept a low profile since the Srikrishna Committee submitted its report as part of the Central initiative, but has now told party leaders to intensify the Telangana movement.

Yesterday, in the latest in a series of incendiary speeches, he warned publically, “Buses and trains will not move…Telangana will be like a furnace from tomorrow (Tuesday). I appeal to the Prime Minister to take immediate steps for formation of separate statehood.”
The math for the Congress

As Telangana starts to coil with political tension, the union government finds itself on disconcertingly familiar territory in Andhra Pradesh. It is a political necessity that has the Congress leaders from the volatile region ganging up to rebel. Voters in Telangana are getting restless with the Centre’s indecision about its statehood; and they are all too aware that KCR’s reinvigorated campaign could sway voters into accepting him as the face of their cause.

The Congress’ keenness on extensive discussions with its partymen from Telangana is based largely on formidable math for its government in Andhra Pradesh. 43 Congress MLAs have quit, including 11 ministers. Out of 294 seats in the Andhra Pradesh Assembly, the Congress currently has 168 seats with the support of its ally, Chiranjeevi’s Prajya Rajyam Party (PRP). But if 36 disgruntled MLAs switch sides, the government starts sliding below the half-way mark of 147.

33 members of Chandrababu Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party (TDP) who are members of the Andhra Pradesh Assembly have also resigned.

Political analysts say that if the bulk resignations do transpire, President’s Rule may have to be considered for Andhra Pradesh.


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