Telangana protesters clash with police; Congress leader meets Governor

New Delhi/Hyderabad:  Angry pro-Telangana protesters in Hyderabad tried to break police barricades today as they made their way to Indira Park, where a large protest is being held against the Centre deferring a decision on whether Andhra Pradesh should be split to create a separate state. The protesters, who were shouting slogans, were taken away in vans by the police. Protesters are bringing political pressure on leaders in the ruling Congress who support a separate Telangana, to resign or face a "social boycott" in the region. The Hyderabad police is on alert.
Here are 10 latest developments in this story:
  1. The protesters, civil groups, students and political parties under the TJAC (Telangana Joint Action Committee) want pro-Telangana Congress ministers, MPs and MLAs to resign to demonstrate their loyalty to the Telangana cause and exert pressure on their party leadership to stick to their deadline. Last month, Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde had set January 28, today, as the deadline for resolving the politically volatile and emotive issue, but the government said yesterday that it needed more discussions.
  2. Senior Congressman Jana Reddy, also the state's panchayati raj minister, met Andhra Pradesh governor ESL Narasimhan today, amid speculation that some legislators and ministers of the Congress who are meeting this afternoon, might resign. In the Congress, there is no consensus on the sensitive issue. Representatives from Telangana want a new state. Those from the two other regions - coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema - don't.
  3. The Kiran Reddy government in Andhra Pradesh has a razor-thin majority of only one in the state Assembly - it has 148 seats in a 294-seat House, with a halfway mark at 147 - and can ill-afford the resignation of its pro-Telangana MLAs.
  4. The social boycott, that the Telangana Joint Action Committee has threatened the Congress leaders with, would entail them not being allowed to roam around in villages and participate in functions.
  5. The Hyderabad police has allowed protests at the Indira Park, but has said no more than 2000 people can gather at a time. The police is preventing large groups from entering the city.
  6. The park is close to the Osmania University in Hyderabad, which has been the epicentre of the pro-Telangana movement with repeated clashes between students and the police.
  7. In December 2009, a lengthy hunger fast by KCR found huge support, and then Home Minister P Chidambaram, in a surprise midnight announcement, said Telangana would be on its own state. Violent protests in non-Telangana areas and a chorus of criticism by their leaders surprised the Centre. Many parties which had backed the division of the state rescinded their support. The decision to create a new state was suspended.
  8. Last month, representatives of eight parties in the state were invited to Delhi for an all-party meeting. Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde promised a decision by January 28. But yesterday, Ghulam Nabi Azad said the Centre will consult again with leaders from the three regions of Andhra Pradesh. "There is no deadline, but the talks will be held as soon as possible," he said.
  9. At the heart of the Telangana dispute is the booming economy of Hyderabad, the capital of Andhra Pradesh. The other big issue is sharing of waters between the three regions of the state.
  10. Critics of the Central government attribute its indecision on calculations for next year's general elections. Andhra Pradesh, which sends 42 members to the Lok Sabha, will play a starring role in deciding whether the Congress returns to power - 17 of the state's 42 seats are in Telangana. It is wary of the obvious popularity of former Congress leader Jagan Mohan Reddy, who founded his own party in 2011. Mr Reddy's father, YSR, who was chief minister when he died in a helicopter crash in 2009, was given all the credit for the Congress winning 156 seats in that year's general elections.

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