Ministers, MPs and MLAs decide against quitting their posts as they feel staying put is crucial for defeating the resolution on bifurcation

Ministers, MLAs and MPs from the Seemandhra region have asked the Centre to withdraw its move to bifurcate the State as “nothing short of united Andhra Pradesh’’ was acceptable to them.

They wanted the party leadership to address the concerns and apprehensions being expressed in the region before going ahead with bifurcation.

At a hurriedly convened meeting in Hyderabad on Thursday, the elected representatives, however, resolved against submitting their resignations. They felt that staying in their posts was crucial for defeating the resolution on separate State as and when it comes up before the Assembly.

The meeting witnessed heated arguments. A section led by A. Krishnamohan, MLA, favoured en masse resignations from constitutional as well as party posts in support of a united State. The group of MLAs considered staunch supporters of Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy opposed such action as it would tantamount to insulting the party leadership.

“We will stay within the party and fight till our concerns are addressed. There is no question of leaving the party. The meeting has resolved against resignation from the party,” Minister Kondru Murali told The Hindu.

The meeting, accordingly, authorised Mr. Reddy and AP Congress Committee president Botcha Satyanarayana to call on the party leadership in New Delhi and convey their concerns and resolutions.

“We have resolved to oppose the resolution irrespective of the conditions incorporated,” Minister S. Sailajanath said.

Tensions flare up

Tensions suddenly flared up in coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions amid reports that the Central Cabinet would discuss and possibly approve in the evening a note on bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh.

Some regional television channels even showed copies of the purported note, said to run into 24 pages, prepared by the Union Home Ministry for the Cabinet's consideration at 6 pm on Thursday.

These reports caused surprise since Seemandhra leaders were expecting some forward movement only after the Antony Committee submitted its report on the concerns of people of coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema on the issue of partitioning. The Committee has not been able to complete its work due to the reported indisposition of Defence Minister A. K. Antony.

Thursday is the 66th day of the agitation in Seemandhra which has completely paralysed functioning of Government offices and grounded public transport.

As soon as the news spread about the Centre's move, Seemandhra agitators gheraoed the houses of Union Minister Kavuri Sambasiva Rao, PCC chief Botcha Satyanarayana and Members of Parliament like Lagadapati Rajagopal and dozens of other important Congress leaders across the region. However, there were no untoward incidents as police forces were present in large numbers.

The situation in Anantapur district turned volatile as thousands of people came on to the streets and blocked traffic on major thoroughfares in several towns. A few activists surrounded the house of Congress MP Ananta Vankatrami Reddy. A group of protestors laid siege to National Highway 44 passing through Anantapur town.

Meanwhile, Seemandhra Ministers, MPs and MLAs held an emergency meeting at the Ministers Quarters to take stock of the situation. Many of them favoured resignation from their posts but this plan was not approved by the group opposed to Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy's hard line stand against the Congress Working Committee's decision to divide the State.

Amid these deep differences, a group of three Ministers -- E. Pratap Reddy, T. G. Venkatesh and K. V. Krishna Reddy, drove to the residence of the Chief Minister to brief him about the deliberations. The Chief Minister cancelled his plan to visit the Secretariat and was closely monitoring the political developments from his house.