Ahead of Monday's crucial session of the Andhra Pradesh Assembly, Congress MP from the Vijayawada Lok Sabha constituency L. Rajagopal on Sunday demanded the immediate introduction of a resolution to defeat the demand for a separate Telangana State, failing which he threatened to undertake an indefinite hunger strike.
Mr. Rajagopal told journalists about his intention to join the movement for the unity of the State, and had called on the Lok Sabha Speaker and written to Congress president Sonia Gandhi as a first step. He declined to divulge either the reason for his meeting the Speaker or the contents of the letter.
However, Mr. Rajagopal left little in doubt that he had submitted his resignation as MP from Vijayawada and that he had urged the party leaders to field someone from the Telangana region to contest the by-election - in the event of his resignation being accepted - to underline the commitment of unity among the people of the State cutting across party and regional lines.
Mr. Rajagopal said he would meet Chief Minister K. Rosaiah and all party MLAs on Monday ahead of the commencement of the Assembly session and press for the introduction of the resolution, favouring the creation of a separate State for consideration of the House and have it defeated. "We'll discuss how to go forward in the matter."
The Congress MP maintained that at least 225 MLAs out of 294 in the Assembly would vote against the resolution. The Andhra and Rayalaseema regions accounted for 175 legislators.
Mr. Rajagopal evaded a question on whether the Congress would vote against the resolution, saying that the legislators would vote cutting across party lines.
Seeking to differentiate between the stand taken by the Congress and the direction of the UPA government for the introduction of the resolution to start the process of forming the new State, Mr. Rajagopal said the Congress had no option when other political parties had favoured the idea.
He sought to stress that only the UPA government, of which the Congress was part, had taken the decision for the introduction of the resolution. The decision had been taken collectively and not just by the Congress. The Congress could not be blamed for that, he added.
Mr. Rajagopal, however, justified the directive, saying there was nothing wrong in the introduction of the resolution and denying that he was defying it. "We will adhere to it. Let the voice of the Assembly be heard in the entire country," he said.
The MP claimed that the legislators who had submitted their resignations as members of the Assembly would withdraw them once the resolution was introduced. He was also confident that the ministers who had put in their papers would also reconsider their stand.
Replying to a question, Mr. Rajagopal denied that he was opposing the formation of a new State because of his economic interests, as his Lanco group of companies has a major presence in Hyderabad