Hyderabad: Seemandhra erupted in protests amid a shutdown while some central ministers and MPs from the region announced their resignation Friday to protest against a cabinet approval for the formation of a separate Telangana state.
YSR Congress president Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy announced he would go on an indefinite fast here from Saturday while state ministers and Congress legislators from Seemandhra decided not to quit so that they can defeat a Telangana resolution in the assembly.
More than 70 Congress leaders, including ministers and legislators, took the decision at a meeting with Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy, who is said to be opposed to the break up of Andhra Pradesh.
Normal life in all 13 districts of Seemandhra, as Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra are together known, came to a halt due to a 48-hour shutdown called by groups opposing Andhra Pradesh's bifurcation.
The shutdown was total and marred by sporadic incidents of violence.
Police used tear gas to disperse protestors in Vijayanagaram who attacked the camp office of state Congress chief Botsa Satyanarayana.
Police baton charged the mob which pelted stones and damaged window panes of the building. They also damaged five police vehicles.
Tension prevailed in Anantpaur and Prakasam districts, where activists of YSR Congress and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) clashed.
Shops, businesses, transport and educational institutions were closed in all towns of Seemandhra.
Opposing the state's division, protestors took to the streets forcing closure of hotels and shops and burning tyres on main roads. They erected road blocks on state and national highways, halting all traffic.
Burning effigies of Congress leaders and raising slogans of "Jai Samaikyandhra" (Long live united Andhra), they crippled Visakhapatnam, Vijayawada, Guntur, Tirupati, Anantapur, Kurnool and other towns.
Vehicular traffic from and to the neighbouring states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Odisha came to a halt.
While buses of the state-owned transport corporation are off the roads for nearly two months due to the indefinite strike by employees, private vehicles were also taken off due to the shutdown, causing hardships to commuters.
More than six lakh government employees, teachers and workers are on strike since Aug 13 to protest the July 30 decision of the Congress party to create a separate Telangana state.
On Thursday, the union cabinet approved the formation of the new state.
Five central ministers submitted their resignations while Union Human Resource Development Minister M.M. Pallam Raju Friday said he has decided to resign.
"It is a very sad day for Andhra Pradesh. I am hurt and aggrieved at the way the decision has been rushed to bifurcate the state," Pallam Raju said in New Delhi.
Minister of Textiles K.S. Rao, Ministers of State K. Chiranjeevi and Kotla Suryaprakash Reddy also announced their resignations Thursday night.
D. Purandeswari and K. Krupa Rani Friday said they too were resigning. They faxed their resignation to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Four Congress MPs - V. Arun Kumar, Ananta Venkatarami Reddy, A. Sai Pratap and Sabbam Hari - resigned Thursday while two more MPs - K. Bapi Raju and R. Sambasiva Rao - announced their resignations Friday.
State Law Minister E. Pratap Reddy resigned from the cabinet and the Congress party.
YSR Congress party president Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy said he would launch an indefinite fast from Saturday.
He said he would fast in front of the YSR Congress office to demand that the central government should take back its decision.
Jagan, as the MP from Kadapa is popularly known, accused the Congress of dividing the state to earn votes in elections.
He appealed to the country to stand up against this "injustice", saying the central government would start dividing other states too in a similar "arbitrary" manner.