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Seemandhra in turmoil over Telangana; Jagan, Naidu on hunger strike
Monday October 7, 2013 11:00 PM, IANS

The sprawling Seemandhra region was crippled for yet another day Monday, with many parts enveloped in darkness and the railways cancelling several trains due to the unending protests against the creation of Telangana state.

And even as YSR Congress party chief Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy's fast in Hyderabad against Andhra Pradesh's bifurcation entered the third day, TDP chief N. Chandrababu Naidu launched his protest fast in New Delhi.

Naidu accused the Congress of playing politics over Telangana but did not clarify if he favoured a united Andhra Pradesh, simply saying that he wanted "justice" for both regions.

Also in New Delhi, four central ministers from Seemandhra met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and urged him to accept the resignations they gave after the cabinet decided to carve out a Telangana state.

Manmohan Singh sought more time to decide after meeting cabinet minister Pallam Raju and ministers of state K. Chiranjeevi, D. Purandeswari and K. Suryaprakash Reddy.

Purandeswari said they told Manmohan Singh they would not attend offices from Tuesday to respect the feeling of the people of Seemandhra, which covers Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra regions.

"We stand by our demand for a united state. But this doesn't mean we are defying the party," she said.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy, who too opposes the state's division, told some television channels that he doesn't rule out stepping down.

Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde assured the people of Seemandhra that their concerns would be addressed. But this had few takers.

Over six lakh government employees in Seemandhra continued their nearly two-month-long strike while the strike by electricity employees entered the second day, plunging the majority of 13 districts in the region into darkness. Train traffic was badly hit.

Dozens of towns and hundreds of villages were without electricity as generation and transmission came to a standstill.

With no exemption to emergency services, patients in hospitals faced severe hardships while drinking water supply was affected in many areas. Internet service was hit. Even ATMs and mobile phones collapsed in some areas.

Visakhapatnam Airport ran on back-up power. In Hyderabad, authorities imposed power cuts for two to three hours.

Hundreds of train passengers were stranded at various stations in Srikakulam district bordering Odisha as the movement of trains between Bhubaneswar and Visakhapatnam went haywire.

For the second day, railways cancelled several trains in Vijayawada, Guduru and other sections. Vijayawada, one of the biggest transit hubs in south India, was the worst hit. Some trains ran with diesel engines.

The situation remained tense in Vizianagaram town of north coastal Andhra as an indefinite curfew continued for the third day Monday. Police said curfew would be relaxed for one hour Tuesday morning.

The town was rocked by violence Friday and Saturday when protestors targeted the residences and other properties of state Congress chief Botsa Satyanarayana and his relatives.

Seemandhra employees of the state secretariat continued their candle light rally Monday night to demand that the central government keeps the state united.

State ministers from Telangana, meanwhile, decided to hold public meetings in all districts of Telangana from Oct 16 to thank the Congress leadership for meeting the long pending demand.

Senior minister K. Jana Reddy sought the cooperation of the Seemandhra people in the formation of Telangana state.

The minister termed the protests and violence in Seemandhra as unfortunate and urged the government to deal firmly with those creating law and order problems.

Congress general secreatary Digvijaya Singh, in charge of party affairs in the state, hinted that Seemandhra may get tax concession and due share in revenues.

Defending the move to create a Telangana state, he said all political parties except the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) had supported breaking up Andhra Pradesh.

He said that issues like security, education and employment of Seemandhra people in Hyderabad would be taken care of.

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