Pro-Telangana Cong leaders launch hunger strike

Hyderabad: Intensifying their agitation, several Congress MPs and MLAs, who quit their posts recently, today began a 48-hour hunger strike to highlight their demand for a separate Telangana state.

The fast began at the Indira Park here, with seven MPs, three ministers, 14 MLAs and two MLCs taking part in it.

Though, there has been no concrete response from the Centre, following their en masse resignations, the hunger strike is aimed at highlighting their demand, Telangana Congress leaders said.

Asked about the comments by Union Minister and in-charge of party affairs in Andhra Pradesh, Ghulam Nabi Azad, that wider consensus and a resolution in the assembly is necessary for the formation of a separate state, Congress MP from Karimnagar Ponnam Prabhakar said that a consensus would never be possible, as legislators from non-Telangana region are more in numbers.

"If he (Azad) has made such comments, it is regrettable. Leadeship needs to think about such comments.

Consensus would not be possible, because they are more in numbers. In fact, all parties had agreed on the formation of Telangana earlier. We will use these comments to only strengthen our resolve and to achieve our goal," he said.

Azad had said in Beijing yesterday that a decision on the formation of Telangana state cannot move ahead an "inch" without the State Assembly passing a unanimous resolution.

"If we have to do this we have to pass a unanimous resolution. Unless it is passed, we cannot move one inch," Azad had said.

Several ministers hailing from Telangana region have expressed their solidarity with the fasting leaders by attending the venue here.

Andhra Pradesh Home Minister P Sabita Indra Reddy left the site after visiting it for brief time, while some leaders stayed out there.

Till afternoon, 22 MLAs, eight MPs and 11 ministers have turned up at Indira Park here.

Meanwhile, Azad`s comments on the raging issue have not gone down well with many leaders who expressed their displeasure over the same.

"Azad should step down as in-charge of Congress affairs in Andhra Pradesh for making such comments. If he does not do that, he should be relieved from the responsibility," senior Congress MLA R Damodar Reddy said.

Congress MLA Gandra Venkataramana Reddy said the in-charge should represent and reflect the views of the people and leaders.

Another senior leader and former AICC general secretary, M Satyanarayana Rao, said it was sad that Azad has made such comments.

Noting that the effort of Telangana Congress leaders is to save the party in the region, state Civil Supplies Minister, D Sridhar Babu, said the party high command should resolve the issue as per the wishes of the people.

The Telangana statehood demand gained momentum last week after over 100 MLAs and 15 MPs, cutting across party lines, submitted their resignations to respective presiding officers.