U-turn in the wake of fear of backlash when they visit their constituencies

Visibly under pressure from the Telangana protagonists, the Ministers from the region have resolved to convince Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy to give conditional permission for the Telangana March on September 30.

In a complete turnaround on their mandate, the Ministers who were asked by the Chief Minister to convince the TJAC to put off the March, instead want the rally to be permitted, although with conditions. The concerns expressed by the police top brass about the likelihood of trouble did not apparently weigh with these Ministers.

Their worry only stems from the fear of being isolated in the region and the likely backlash they may face because of the tough statements being issued by the police department. Telugu Desam Party’s letter to the Prime Minister seeking an all-party meeting on Telangana has only heightened their worries. The Ministers frankly admit that they will face a tough time in their respective constituencies if they fail to toe the majority view.

With less than 72 hours left for the March, the Ministers met at the residence of Major Irrigation Minister P. Sudarshan Reddy on Thursday to take stock of the situation. Panchayat Raj Minister K. Jana Reddy, who is one among the three deputed by the Chief Minister to hold consultations with the TJAC representatives, presided the meeting.

The overwhelming opinion among them was to permit the March. Mr. Jana Reddy is said to have pointed out that the TJAC leadership had assured the government that the March would be peaceful. The Ministers flayed the statements issued by the police that violence would break out during the March. Meanwhile, TJAC chairman M. Kodandaram ruled out postponement of the March, claiming it had no other option but go ahead with the agitation to mount pressure on the Centre for conceding the demand for separate statehood. The rally, Mr. Kodandaram, said was an ‘expression of our right’.

These developments were reviewed at a meeting Home Minister P. Sabitha Indra Reddy and DGP V. Dinesh Reddy had with Chief Minister after his return from Vijayawada. Ms. Sabitha briefed the Chief Minister about the discussions held at the residence of Mr. Sudarshan Reddy.

The Chief Minister is expected to meet the Telangana Ministers on Friday morning where a decision on the March would be taken.

Ahead of the March, tension mounted on Osmania University campus as the students made a vain bid to take out a rally from Arts College to Jaladrushyam near Secretariat.

A heavy posse of the police prevented the slogan-shouting students from proceeding beyond the NCC Gate. As the students resorted to stone pelting, the police cane-charged them and later lobbed teargas shells.