New Delhi: The Congress-led UPA government is expected to formally announce a decision to bifurcate Andhra Pradesh and create a new state of Telangana today. Anticipating protests on the ground, additional forces have been rushed to the state. Chief Minister Kiran Reddy and most members of his cabinet are headed for Delhi, as are pro-Telangana leaders from across political parties.
Here are the latest developments:
- The announcement on India's 29th state, Telangana, is likely to be made this evening after a series of meetings that Congress presiednt Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will hold at the latter's residence in Delhi this evening.
- In Andhra Pradesh, those who oppose bifurcation of the state - mostly from the Coastal Andhra and Rayalseema regions - have intensified their agitation and the government anticipates protests across the state. The Centre has sent an additional 1,000 paramilitary soldiers to the two regions.
- Four battalions have also been posted in the state for anti-Naxal operations. The Union Home Ministry is in constant touch with the Andhra Pradesh police.
- Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy, who belongs to Rayalaseema, is reportedly upset with the Centre's decision to grant statehood to Telangana, although sources say he has been convinced not the resign over the issue.
- Hyderabad, sources said, will not be designated a Union Territory. Instead, the city with its booming economy powered largely by the IT industry, will be a shared capital for Andhra Pradesh and the new Telangana state.
- Congress leaders from Andhra Pradesh who are from the two non-Telangana regions of Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema had objected to statehood for Telangana, arguing that their voters would respond with retributive force.
- Telangana's future is imbricated with the national elections, now just months away. Andhra Pradesh has 42 parliamentary constituencies. The Congress has calculated that creating a new state will deliver strong returns. But just in case, it's weighing how to graph the geography for maximum electoral ground.
- The government is also weighing the option of affixing two districts from Rayalaseema to Telangana's existing 10 districts. This will ensure the new and old states have 20 parliamentary seats each, and that the stronghold of political rival Jagan Mohan Reddy is divided across the new border.
- The actual formation of the state is expected to be completed by early next year. The cabinet will share its plans with President Pranab Mukherjee and the Andhra Pradesh legislature will be asked for insights. The PM will then set up a committee to negotiate consensus between the leaders from the three regions of the state for issues like how to share revenue and water. Both Houses of Parliament will have to then pass the resolution for the creation of a separate state.
- The five-decade struggle for a Telangana state was forced onto the contemporary national agenda in 2009 by the Telangana Rashtra Samithi or TRS, headed by K Chandrasekhara Rao. He fasted for 10 days, triggering huge rallies of support. In response, in December 2009, in a surprise announcement, the Centre said it was sanctioning statehood. But within days, the government backtracked as violent protests erupted in the other two regions-Coastal Andhra Pradesh and Rayalaseema.