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Aug 02, 2013 at 11:51pm IST

Telangana statehood: Congress in damage control mode as leaders continue to resign

New Delhi, Hyderabad: The revolt among Congress leaders over Telangana is far from over. Seven MPs, a state minister and seven MLAs from Andhra and Rayalaseema regions have so far resigned protesting the creation of Telangana state while there are indications that some more are likely to follow suit.

Union HRD Minister Pallam Raju offered to resign on Friday forcing the congress to launch a damage control. However, the party apparently managed to dissuade the HRD Minister against his resignation. Senior Congress leader and party's Andhra-in-charge Digvijaya Singh held a meeting with Raju and claimed that none of the ministers will be quitting.

"We are in touch with the MPs and MLAs and trying to convince them that all the issues will be dealt with when we draft the bill. We appeal to the people to accept the decision of the party," Digvijay Singh said.

Upset over the party's decision taken on Tuesday, seven Congress MPs and four union ministers from Andhra and Rayalaseema regions held marathon meeting late on Thursday night to evolve strategy against formation of Telangana decision.

The seven MPs, 6 Lok Sabha members and a Rajya Sabha member then went to Parliament this morning and submitted their resignations.

There has been unanimity among Congress leaders from the Seemandhra region against Telangana but not over how to protest. Union Ministers Pallam Raju, Chiranjeevi and KC Deo have said they are against quitting. The split emerged after the party high command hardened its stance, and said it will not go back on the decision. Meanwhile even 14 TDP MLAs protesting lack of firm assurances from the Centre on development of the proposed Seemandhra state.

The Lok Sabha members who put in their papers were A Sai Prathap (Rajampet constituency), Anantha Venkatarami Reddy (Anantapur) C V Harsha Kumar (Amalapuram-SC), Vundavalli Arun Kumar (Rajahmundry), Lagadapati Rajagopal (Vijayawada) and SPY Reddy (Nandyal). They submitted their resignations to Lok Sabha Secretary General T K Vishwanathan.

The MPs said that three more Lok Sabha members from the state, Sabbam Hari (Anakapalli), Magunta Srinivasulu Reddy (Ongole) and Rayapati Sambasiva Rao (Guntur) had also faxed their resignations. Congress has 31 members in the House from Andhra Pradesh. Rajya Sabha member KVP Ramachandra Rao tendered his resignation to Rajya Sabha Secretary General Shamsher K Sheriff. Congress has 13 members in the Upper House.

In Hyderabad, Municipal Administration Minister M Maheedhar Reddy resigned on Friday, taking to four the number of ministers who put in their papers since yesterday. Congress MLA Dronamraju Srinivas also tendered resignation and another half-a-dozen MLAs also claimed to have quit. The total number of Congress MLAs who resigned since Thursday has gone up to 20 while about 15 others claimed to have submitted their resignations to PCC president B Satyanarayana.

Four Union Ministers, Ministers of State D Purandeswari, Killi Kruparani, JD Seelam along with Pallam Raju, were said to be among those intending to protest against the Telangana decision. They met AICC in-charge of Andhra Pradesh Digvijay Singh after which they decided "to continue to hold fort" as they were assured that a high level committee would be set up to address the grievances of people from Andhra and Rayalaseema regions.

The ministers were believed to have been assured that they would be made members of the Committee. The resignations by MPs came a day after Congress Union Ministers and unhappy MPs from Andhra and Rayalseema regions held a meeting at the residence of KVP Ramachandra Rao late last night. At the meeting, the Union Ministers are understood to have counselled the MPs not to resign saying that after the Congress high-command's decision on Telangana formation, it would focus on Andhra's future development.

However, the MPs felt that the situation has still not gone out of hand and by tendering their resignations, they can force the government to hold back its decision. Some of them were also of the view that the issue could be raised effectively in Parliament by stalling its proceedings when the Monsoon Session begins from Monday.

(With additional inputs from PTI)