Three Congress MLAs from Andhdra Pradesh quit the party today protesting Centre's decision to go ahead with the Telangana Bill even as Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy invoked the Telugu pride again and took a dig at the Prime Minister.
It was also the final day of vote-on-account budget session of the Legislative Assembly. Perhaps it could well be the last sitting of the Legislature of the unified Andhra Pradesh, if Telangana were to become a reality soon.
The Congress suffered a set back as three MLAs from coastal region -- Adala Prabhakar Reddy, Sridhar Krishna Reddy (both from Nellore district) and B Satyananda Rao (East Godavari) -- quit the party denouncing the move to carve out the separate state of Telangana.
Another Congress MLA R Suryaprakash Rao had resigned from the party on February 11, protesting disciplinary action against Congress MP from Rajahmundry, V Arun Kumar, one of the six Lok Sabha members expelled from the party.
Indications are that more Congress MLAs from Seemandhra --staring at bleak electoral prospects in the two regions--could desert the party soon, seeking greener pastures in TDP and YSRCP.
Meanwhile, YSR Congress president Y S Jaganmohan Reddy has called for a bandh tomorrow against the "forced introduction" of Telangana Bill in Parliament.
The Chief Minister, who is in consultations with Union Ministers, MPs and legislators from Seemandhra to decide on future course of action in the election year, termed the ugly incidents in Lok Sabha over the Telangana Bill as "very unfortunate" and said Centre should ponder over what caused such a situation.
"The Prime Minister says his heart bleeds over such incidents. But he should understand that the hearts of crores of Telugu people are bleeding because of the undemocratic acts of the Centre," Kiran Reddy told reporters soon after the Assembly was adjourned sine die. Reddy termed the bringing of the AP Reorganisation Bill in Lok Sabha as "most undemocratic" even as he found fault with the suspension of 18 MPs from Andhra Pradesh.
Earlier, MLAs from Telangana, cutting across party lines, hailed the introduction of the Bill, while their counterparts in Seemaandhra condemned the move.
"The sixty-year-dream of Telangana people is coming true. We are happy. We are thankful to Soniaji", State Information Minister D K Aruna said. TRS president K Chandrasekhar Rao said separate state of Telangana would soon be a reality. "Do not have any worry about formation of Telangana state. Please observe restraint. Telangana state will be formed. Be peaceful," he said.
Telangana Leaders from the main opposition TDP rejoiced over the Bill being introduced, but stressed that it is now the responsibility of the Centre to get it passed.
"We thank the Centre for tabling the Bill. It is the Centre's responsibility to pass it. Separate Telangana is becoming a reality because of the sacrifices made by youths and the efforts of students, employees (of AP government), lawyers and other sections," senior TDP MLA E Dayakar Rao said.
Meanwhile, YSR Congress, which is opposed to division of AP, said it would fight till the end to keep the state united.