The ruling Congress party and the UPA finally plumped for a separate state of Telangana on Tuesday in the face of stiff opposition from the other two regions of the State. A day after, on Wednesday, a bandh was observed in many parts of what is now being referred to as Seemandhra (coastal districts plus Rayalaseema). There were sporadic protests by students, the NGOs (the non-gazetted government employees) and other sections of the public. Many were left fuming at the decision, some relieved that the suspense had at last ended and several others perplexed as to why it had taken so long for the Congress to arrive at the decision.

The joint action committee of students from Andhra University staged demonstrations in front of the university and several students went on an indefinite hunger strike. The students served a notice on people's representatives from the ruling Congress party as well as the Telugu Desam party to quit their posts immediately and join the struggle in protest against the decision to form Telangana State. They raised slogans against Sonia Gandhi, burnt her effigies and of K. Chadrasekhara Rao of the Telangana Rashtra Samiti as well, and many were critical of "the ineptitude" of leaders from the coastal areas and Rayalaseema in failing to protect the integrity of the first linguistic state in the country, Andhra Pradesh.

A home guard committed suicide here in protest against the decision of the Congress and the UPA and another death, of a student, was reported from Guntur over the same issue. A few MLAs and also Rayapati Sambasiva Rao, the Tobacco exporter and member of Parliament from Guntur, submitted their resignations.

B. Murali Manohara Rao, of the Sankhya Technologies, a local IT company, said there was no point in crying over spilt milk, as the UPA Government had already taken a decision on the issue, and "it is time to move on. The new Government of Andhra Pradesh (or the residual Andhra Pradesh, as Congress leader Digvijay Singh described it) should think of promoting IT, agro-processing and marine fisheries to provide job opportunities for the youth. Already, AP has suffered grievously in the past decade and no more time is to be lost. Unrest will only worsen matters."

B.V Rama Rao, the president of the Federation of Andhra Pradesh Industry, condemned the politicians of all parties "for messing up the problem and ruining the State on all fronts. I only hope and pray for no more political manipulation and the issue will be clinched soon."

Capt. Sriram Ravichander, the CEO of the Visakhapatnam Container Terminal Private Ltd., expressed happiness that the Congress had taken a decision and the issue would be resolved soon. It brooked no further delay, as it was taking a heavy toll on the development of the State and welfare of the people.

Ratnam, an environmental activist, however, objected to the recommendation of the Congress that the Polavaram project on the Godavari be considered a national project and funded by the Union Government. He said such a decision, taken apparently to mollify the people of the coastal region, would have disastrous consequences. The mega irrigation project on the Godavari would ruin environment and displace thousands of tribals, he alleged. It was unfortunate that the Congress had chosen to link it with a politically sensitive issue such as the bifurcation of the State, he said.

K. Malayavasini, a retired professor of Telugu from Andhra University, said the Congress and the UPA had taken the decision to bifurcate the State in utter disregard of the glorious Telugu language, culture and heritage. Political expediency prompted the decision, she alleged.

(This article was published on July 31, 2013)
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