TDP takes u-turn, supports separate Telangana

October 9th, 2008 - 6:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Hyderabad, Oct 9 (IANS) Taking a u-turn, the main opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in Andhra Pradesh Thursday supported the demand for separate statehood to the Telangana region, paving the way for an electoral alliance with Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS).The TDP politburo, which met here in the morning, unanimously passed a resolution supporting separate statehood for Telangana. Party president N. Chandrababu Naidu announced the decision at a news conference.

The TDP has all along been a strong advocate of a united Andhra Pradesh and vociferously opposed the demand for bifurcation of the state. It fought 2004 elections on the plank of united Andhra Pradesh.

Naidu said the party would convey its decision to Pranab Mukherjee committee, formed by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government to look into the demand for separate Telangana. The party had earlier opposed the demand before the committee.

He said the party would do everything “legally possible” to achieve the separate Telangana and if voted to power it would support a resolution in the state assembly.

“The TDP is committed for the welfare of Telugu people and it also respects the sentiments and self-respect of people of Telangana,” he said.

Naidu denied that his party changed the stand in view of the coming elections and pointed out that the process of reconsidering the stand began after 2004 elections.

“We have taken a decision after looking into all aspects and a thorough debate,” he said and hoped that party leaders from coastal Andhra and Rayalseema regions would appreciate the party’s stand.

Under pressure from its own leaders from Telangana, the TDP had formed a core committee earlier this year to look into the issue. The core committee submitted its report to Naidu last week.

Some top leaders including former minister T. Devender Goud quit the TDP recently to protest the delay in taking a favourable stand on Telangana. Goud floated a new party Nava Telangana Praja Party to fight for separate Telangana.

The change of stand by the TDP is likely to have dramatic impact on the state’s political scene in the run up to the next year’s elections. The TDP became the first major political party in the state to take a clear stand in support of Telangana.

The ruling Congress is yet to take a clear stand despite strong demand from its Telangana leaders. The party’s state unit has left a final decision to party president Sonia Gandhi.

Naidu came down heavily on the Congress for “betraying” the people of Telangana since 1969. “Congress has always betrayed Telangana,” he alleged.

The TDP’s u-turn has now paved way for for its alliance with the TRS and a possible grand alliance. Both the TDP and TRS are in talks with the Communist Party of India (CPI) and Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) for a grand alliance against the ruling Congress party.

The TRS and the two communist parties had fought 2004 elections in alliance with Congress. The elections ended nearly a decade long rule of Chandrababu Naidu.

The TRS, which had joined Congress-led coalitions both in the state and at the centre, later pulled out and accused the Congress of going back on its promise to deliver separate Telangana.

The demand for separate Telangana is nearly six decades old. The region comprising 10 districts including Hyderabad was part of erstwhile Hyderabad state. The region was merged with Andhra in 1956 to form Andhra Pradesh for Telugu-speaking people. The people of Telangana were opposed to this merger but they were assured that their interests would be protected.

Telangana witnessed a violent movement for separate state in 1969. More than 300 people were killed in police firing.

K. Chandrasekhara Rao, who quit TDP in 2000 to float the TRS, revived the Telangana movement.

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