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Seemandhra Congress leaders may reconcile to bifurcation
Friday October 18, 2013 7:16 PM, Mohammed Shafeeq, IANS

With the Congress leadership firm on its decision to carve out a Telangana state, party leaders from other two regions of Andhra Pradesh appear to have reconciled to the state's division that looks imminent.

After vociferous protests for two months, the leaders from Seemandhra, as Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra are together known, have now realized that the bifurcation is inevitable. The leaders including central ministers and MPs are now focussing on extracting a compensation package for Seemandhra.

The leaders are preparing to meet the seven-member Group of Ministers (GoM) constituted by the union cabinet to make a representation. They will draw the GoM's attention to the concerns of Seemandhra people, especially with regard to sharing of river waters, revenues, electricity and the status of Hyderabad.

The feeling is growing among central ministers that bifurcation is inevitable. Even the four ministers who submitted their resignations to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh appear to have concluded that they can't prevent a division.

Union Minister of State D. Purandeswari was the first to go on record. She said when it was certain that the division would be a reality, there was no point in demanding what was not going to be delivered.

Even while claiming that she is a staunch integrationist, she said a representation would be made to the GoM on how the interests of Seemandhra could be protected after bifurcation.

She along with others are now focussing on getting a fair deal for Seemandhra with a package including funds for developing a new capital for the residuary state of Andhra Pradesh.

Other central ministers from Seemandhra agree with her.

"I don't think the state will remain united with our resignations," said K. Krupa Rani on the demands that all central ministers from Seemandhra resign to mount pressure on New Delhi.

The intensity of the 'Samaikyandhra' (united Andhra) agitation has also come down following the withdrawal of the strike by some sections of government employees.

After two months, buses have returned to the roads in all 13 districts, with employees of state-owned Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corp (APSRTC) calling off their strike last week. The government-run schools and colleges have also re-opened with over 200,000 teachers returning to work.

State ministers from Seemandhra headed by S. Sailajanath initially threatened to boycott the GoM on the ground that it has no representation from the state.

But a section of ministers want the coordination headed by Sailajanath to submit a report the GoM.

Ministers like P. Bala Raju feels that at a time when the bifurcation looks certain, failing to protect the interests of Seemandhra would amount to deceiving people.

Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh has assured the Seemandhra people that all their concerns would be addressed.

"The centre will announce a good financial package for the construction of a new capital apart from showering various concessions," he said.

Political analysts say the Samaikyandhra leaders have toned down their criticism in the last few days.

Many of them had earlier declared that nothing short of united Andhra Pradesh is acceptable to them but they are now saying that they will exercise all options available to prevent bifurcation.

To assuage the feelings of the protesters on the streets, the leaders have said time and again that they will defeat the Telangana resolution whenever it is brought before the state assembly.

They hope that the issue will be referred to the assembly twice and both the times they want to stand up and be counted for a united state. They are also aware that despite the assembly defeating the resolution, the central government may still go ahead with the formation of Telangana state.

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