Reuters | HYDERABAD | Thu Dec 24, 2009 | 4:48pm IST
Protesters demanding a new state be carved in southern India shut down the IT hub of Hyderabad while local lawmakers began resigning en masse which could force the government to call a mid-term poll. India air-lifted central police from New Delhi as students clashed with policemen leaving about a dozen injured. About 82 lawmakers in the 294 Andhra Pradesh state assembly also resigned. The protests came after the Congress-ruled central government appeared to backtrack from its original decision to allow the creation of Telangana, placing the decision in the hands of the state legislature.
In early December, the government in a surprise move announced it would push for the formation of a Telangana state after violent protests and a hunger strike by a leading politician shut down Hyderabad. The Congress party, which rules the state, convened an all party meeting in Hyderabad to resolve the crisis in a move experts said was aimed at avoiding a mid-term poll or central rule. “A mid-term poll or even central rule is something the Congress party does not want as it will damage their popularity,” said N. Bhaskara Rao of the Centre for Media Studies. “The Congress will continue to distance itself from the mess it has created and ask the local government to sort this issue among themselves,” said Amulya Ganguli, a political commentator. Hyderabad houses firms like Microsoft, Google and Mahindra Satyam and had increasingly been surfacing as an alternative to Bangalore.
Many businesses and educational institutions were shut and road transport came to a grinding halt during a 48-hour shutdown called by demonstrators on Thursday in favour of the new Telangana state to be carved out of Andhra Pradesh. Since then, there have been protests by both demonstrators both for and against the creation of Telangana. Since independence in 1947, India has had to balance the challenges of maintaining different peoples under one federal system as well as the relationship between central power in the capital Delhi and the states of the world’s largest democracy.