Anti-Telangana protests in Andhra Pradesh lead to a complete shutdown
Anti-Telangana protests intensified across Andhra Pradesh, forcing a complete shutdown on Friday. The Telangana Bill was passed to create India's 29th state on Thursday, despite protests in parliament. Demands that the region be made a separate state have existed almost as long as independent India. Thursday's vote fulfils a promise made by the government in 2009, and come a couple of months before general elections. Members of Rajya Sabha fighting the bill grabbed at papers, brandished signs and tried to drown out Prime Minister Manmohan Singh' speech when he addressed the house. Security was beefed up in Vijayawada district and the shops remained closed in protest against the passing of Telangana Bill. The residents slammed the state government over their decision on Telangana and said that it was one-sided decision. "Regarding the division of the two states of Seemandhra and Telangana, the political leaders did not discuss with the people of Seemandhra specially and central government only decided one-sided politics and one-sided decision about Telangana," said a resident of Vijayawada, Sudhir. The vote passed with the support of the two main parties, the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party. The new state will have a population of around 35 million people. The bill must now be signed by the President to become law, a formality expected to take place in a few days. Congress leader V. Hanumantha Rao hailed the efforts made by the party. "The Congress party will try to improve our image in Seemandhra. Sonia Gandhi has succeeded in gaining people's support in Telangana and people are very happy with her. We have high hopes on Sonia Gandhi and she has lived up to the expectations. We also try to improve in Andhra Pradesh," said Rao. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh offered a "special category" for the remaining rump of Andhra Pradesh for five years aimed at promoting industrial development. He also offered tax incentives for both Andhra and Telangana, even as angry politicians shouted "tear up the bill and throw it".
(Posted on 22-02-2014)