New Delhi/Hyderabad, Oct 3 (IANS) Two months after the Congress decided to carve out Telangana state, the union cabinet Thursday formally decided to bifurcate Andhra Pradesh, triggering anger in Seemandhra and resignation of three MPs of the ruling party.
Police went on high alert in Seemandhra (Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra) in view of the 48 hour shutdown called by various groups opposing the state's division.
Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde announced after a nearly two-hour cabinet meeting presided over by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that a decision was taken to split Andhra Pradesh to create Telangana.
According to the decision taken in line with the July 30 resolution of the Congress Working Committee (CWC), Telangana will comprise 10 districts with Hyderabad as the joint capital of both states for 10 years.
The cabinet also decided to set up a group of ministers (GoM) to address issues arising out of bifurcation.
"The group of ministers will determine the mechanism to ensure appropriate legal and administrative measures for both successive state governments to function from the common capital of Hyderabad for 10 years and to ensure the safety and security of residents in all three regions of coastal Andhra, Rayalaseema and Telangana including guarantees of fundamental rights," Shinde said.
He said the GoM will work out special financial disbursement for the residuary state of Andhra Pradesh for formation of new capital and to meet special needs of backward regions and districts.
With this decision, the government has started the process for formation of Telangana as India's 29th state. As the decision fulfilled 50-year-old dream of the people, celebrations broke out in the region.
Telangana, a part of the erstwhile princely state of Hyderabad, was merged with Andhra State, which was carved out of then Madras State, on Nov 1, 1956 to form Andhra Pradesh.
The new state will have a population of 35.38 million and an area of 1.14 lakh square km.
Of the three cabinet ministers from Seemandhra (Rayalseema and coastal Andhra), two, M.M. Pallam Raju and K.S. Rao, attended the cabinet meeting and opposed division of the state. Science and Technology Minister S. Jaipal Reddy, the lone cabinet minister from Telangana, said the bill for formation of Telangana state will be passed in parliament's winter session.
He said the GoM would draft the bill after looking into various issues like sharing of river water, gas, electricity and revenue.
Jaipal Reddy termed Oct 3 a historic day for Telangana and said the decision was taken in tune with the aspirations of the people of the region.
Around 30 anti-Telangana supporters Thursday protested outside Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's official residence where the cabinet meeting was held.
Holding banners and shouting slogans, the protestors called for 'Saving Andhra Pradesh' and tried to enter the prime minister's residence. Police took them away.
Police went on high alert in all 13 districts of Seemandhra and beefed up security at vital installations and at the residences of public representatives.
Acting Director General of Police B. Prasada Rao Thursday evening held a video conference with the inspectors general of police and superintendents of police of all 13 districts of Seemandhra.
Seemandhra was rocked by protests after the cabinet decision. Protestors came onto the streets in various towns to oppose the decision.
Three Congress MPs from Seemandhra - U. Arun Kumar Ananta Venkatarami Reddy and Sai Pratap - resigned to protest the union cabinet's decision.
Congress sources said union ministers Rao, Pallam Raju and Tourism Minister K. Chiranjeevi also had decided to resign.
State ministers from Seemandhra met Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy Thursday night to chalk out their strategy. The ministers condemned the cabinet decision and termed it one-sided.
They offered to quit but the chief minister advised them not to do as they would lose opportunity to defeat the bill in assembly.
Andhra Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Damodar Rajanarasimha Thursday said the union cabinet's decision to carve out separate Telangana state is a victory of Telangana people.
He assured people of Seemandhra living in Hyderabad that they can continue to live here like people of Telangana without any apprehensions. Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) chief K. Chandrasekhara Rao also welcomed the union cabinet's decision to carve out separate Telangana state.
YSR Congress party has called for 72-hour shutdown in Seemandhra to protest the cabinet decision. YSR Congress president Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy said the decision to divide Andhra Pradesh had pained him.
Condemning the union cabinet's decision to carve out separate Telangana state, Andhra Pradesh Non-Gazetted Officers (APNGOs) Association has called for 48-hour blockade of national highways from 6 a.m. Friday.