Expressing outrage at the sudden decision of the central Congress leadership to initiate the process for formation of a Telangana State, MLAs and other elected representatives from the Rayalaseema and Andhra regions, cutting across political lines, submitted resignation letters en masse.

A political crisis emerged when 100 MLAs, including 58 from the Congress, 29 from the Telugu Desam and 13 from the Praja Rajyam, handed over their letters of resignation to Speaker N. Kiran Kumar Reddy by Thursday evening; more than 35 MLCs too put in their papers.

Reports here suggest that about a dozen Congress MPs are contemplating similar action.

Activists of political parties and students from coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema staged demonstrations against the Congress decision.

Protests turned violent in Kadiri, Gooty and other towns, with police caning the activists who set buses on fire.

The parties also called a bandh in Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra for Friday in protest against the announcement made without taking them into confidence. Students in Visakhapatnam observed a 'black day' and called for a two-day bandh from Friday.

Amid the heightened political crisis, the State Cabinet held an emergency meeting under the leadership of Chief Minister K. Rosaiah, but there were with differences between Ministers from the Telangana and Andhra regions over abiding by the party high command's decision.

The government asserted that there would be no going back on tabling a resolution on Telangana in the Assembly.The day started with Congress MLAs from Andhra and Rayalaseema upping the ante as the implications of the Centre's announcement began to sink in.

Telugu Desam MLAs too joined the revolt, though the party decided to support the resolution. Most of the MLAs felt that they would not be able to face the anger of their constituents.

Shocked at the sudden turn in political developments, TDP president N. Chandrababu Naidu blamed the Congress for plunging the State into a crisis and bringing disrepute to the Telugu people.

The decision of the Praja Rajyam Party MLAs to put in their papers too came as a surprise for many, including their president, K. Chiranjeevi, as the party in principle was not opposed to a separate Telangana State.

The Telangana Rashtra Samiti, which had launched an agitation to press for a separate State, described the rash of resignations as “a political gimmick.”

Congress leaders were apparently caught by surprise over the fast paced developments.

The Ministers too were thoroughly divided, with IT Minister Komatireddy Venkat Reddy accusing his colleagues from other regions of enacting the “drama” of resignations and Panchayat Raj Minister Botcha Satyanarayana, who belongs to the Andhra region, finding fault with the MLAs for putting in their papers.