Hyderabad: In a bid to mount pressure on the Centre over the Telangana separate statehood issue, Telangana Rashtra Samithi leader KT Rama Rao on Sunday morning courted arrest while the Telangana Joint Action Committee said that they would go ahead with its 36-hour hunger strike, despite a ban. Police had denied permission to the TJAC for the strike.
Following the protest, security has been tightened at the Andhra Pradesh Assembly, the Raj Bhavan and near residences of politicians in Hyderabad. The TJAC will launch a protest 'Samara Diksha' at Indira Park in Hyderabad which will be joined by the TRS, the BJP, the CPI, the New Democracy and the Telangana Nagara Samithi. They will also declare a memorandum for an agitation in case the Centre fails to take a decision by Monday.
"TRS has also decided to participate in the 36-hour relay strike. We were all peacefully marching towards Dharna Chowk which is near Indira Park in Hyderabad but unfortunately today the state government has imposed heavy restrictions there. The Dharna Chowk where thousands of people protest on a variety of issues everyday is not permitted apparently today and tomorrow. Therefore, we have all been arrested.
The Central government had given a commitment to people of Telangana in the all-party meet that was convened on December 28, 2012. Shinde had categorically given a statement that the issue would be resolved within a month and to not actually keep up its own word is really a shame on the Union government. What we demand the Union government is to basically spell out its stand. This indecisiveness is really hurting the people of Telangana. The protest will go on peacefully till the government comes forward with some sort of decision," said KT Rama Rao.
In a twist to the Telangana tangle on Wednesday, AICC General Secretary in charge of Andhra Pradesh Ghulam Nabi Azad had hinted of a delay in deciding on the issue of separate statehood. "I don't think one month... (deadline should be taken so literally). When one says tomorrow, it does not mean tomorrow morning. When one says one week, sometimes it is two weeks", Azad had said when told that the Centre's one-month deadline (January 28) on Telangana issue is fast approaching.
This ruined hopes of Congress leaders from the region, who were expecting a quick decision from the Centre. "It is mentally draining. We are not able to visit our constituencies. This delay is disappointing," Congress MP Madhu Yashki Goud had said.
Angry over the probable delay, the TRS threatened to agitate and accused the Congress of succumbing to vested political interests. "We never believed they would honour their deadline. The government is only humiliating itself. We will intensify the agitation if this is how it continues," KT Rama Rao had said.
The top brass of the Congress, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and party chief Sonia Gandhi, had on Saturday evening held one more round of talks on the issue. The meeting of the Congress Core Group deliberated exclusively on the statehood issue at a time when Andhra Pradesh is divided on regional lines on it.
Sources said that another round of consultations could take place before Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde leaves for Dhaka on January 28. The party high command has been grappling with the issue as there has been no unanimity among the top leaders. Azad was specially invited to the Saturday's meeting.
The Home Minister had on December 28 said that the Centre would take the decision on the issue within a month. Among the various ideas, one is said to be the creation of a territorial administration on the lines of Bodoland and Gorkhaland for the backward region. Two separate delegations from Telangana region and outside have so far met several central leaders, including the Prime Minister, articulating their views on the sensitive issue but have got no assurance from anyone.
(With additional information from PTI)