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Telangana row: Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy to sit on dharna in Delhi today

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New Delhi –  Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy will sit on protest in the capital today, even as the controversial proposal that sanctions the bifurcation of his state to create a new Telangana is reviewed by the cabinet.

The Centre is determined to introduce the bill in Parliament in the two-week session that begins today. After the cabinet’s clearance, the bill will be sent to the President and then brought to Parliament for a debate and vote.

Mr Reddy says he will resign if the bill passed. He also says he is “sure that the bill will not be presented to Parliament.” (Watch video here)

Kiran Kumar Reddy led the initiative last week that resulted in the bill being rejected by law makers in Andhra Pradesh. They have sought more than 9000 amendments in it. The feedback of the Andhra Pradesh assembly is not binding on the Centre, but their dissent dents the moral authority of the Congress.

Mr Reddy’s rebellion has pitted him against his party’s central leadership, which wants the Telangana state to be cleared by Parliament before the national election, due by May.

The Chief Minister belongs to the Congress, which like most other parties, is blighted by differences over whether to turn Telangana into India’s 29th state, a move the region has campaigned for over decades.

While Mr Reddy will sit in protest at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar, his deputy, Damodar Raja Narasimha, who is from Telangana, will join a protest to demand the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh at Rajghat.

Telangana says its resources and economy have been unfairly exploited by the two regions of Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema. Those areas say that a Telangana state will deprive them of their fair share of power, water and revenue from the IT hub of Hyderabad that is at the heart of Telangana.

The Congress in Delhi is counting on electoral gains in Telangana from its initiative, but this is the last time Parliament meets before the national election, so this is its last shot to deliver on its commitment.

State leaders like the chief minister want an undivided Andhra Pradesh for the national election so that voters in the non-Telangana regions don’t punish them.

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