Over 50 Congress MLAs, MLCs, Union/State Ministers protest in front of Gandhi statue

Over 50 Congress MLAs and MLCs of Seemandhra, including 14 Ministers of Kiran Kumar Reddy Cabinet, Union ministers and party MPs from the region, staged an hour-long dharna in front of Gandhi statue in the Parliament complex here on Tuesday seeking continuation of united Andhra Pradesh.

Sudden protest

It was an unusual sight as hitherto only the MPs were allowed to stage protest in the high security complex. The sudden protest of MLAs and MLCs and State ministers, who entered the building complex with the temporary passes, caused concern among the security officials and kept them on tenterhooks throughout the stir.

Except Union ministers from Seemandhra region – Kishore Chandra Deo, Kotla Jayasurya Prakash Reddy and Panabaka Lakshmi – all other members of the Manmohan Singh Cabinet from the region participated.

The Congress leaders, who also got the pass for entering the Central Hall, met leaders of some of the national parties and canvassed for support against creation of Telangana.

First time ever

Special Correspondent in Hyderabad adds: Trying to play down the high command’s reported advice against demonstration at Jantar Mantar, the Seemandhra leaders claimed that for the first time ever, elected representatives other than Parliament members were allowed to stage a protest demonstration on the premises.

At a breakfast meeting in the house of MP Magunta Srinivasulu Reddy, it was decided that the Seemandhra leaders should hold a demonstration at Parliament House.

“We felt that our agitation in front of Gandhi statue would give us more publicity. We were able to highlight the concern of the crores of people of Seemandhra region who are opposed to bifurcation,” Government Whip R. Padmaraju told The Hindu on Tuesday from New Delhi.

Congress leaders said there was no intention on the part of the high command to prevent them from going to Jantar Mantar. Congress MLA K. Kanna Babu denied that the Central leaders had warned them. “Do you think the high command would warn us against holding a demonstration at Jantar Mantar and ask us to agitate at Parliament?” he questioned.

Former Minister Gade Venkat Reddy said that the unilateral decision on bifurcation was uncalled for and undemocratic. “When Andhra State was carved out of Madras State, people of this region were consulted and convinced. Why was the same procedure not followed? We had come to Delhi to highlight the public mood against bifurcation,” he said.

‘Genuine agitation’

Minister for Social Welfare Pithani Satyanarayana said that the Seemandhra leaders came to Delhi to prove that the agitation in Seemandhra was genuine and people were overwhelmingly against division.