HYDERABAD, July 4 (IANS): The Congress government in Andhra Pradesh plunged into crisis Monday with 36 legislators from the party and and all 33 from the main opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) quitting over the issue of separate statehood to Telangana.
Of the Congress's 36 legislators who have resigned, 11 are ministers. From the TDP ranks, four had quit Sunday, taking the number of legislators from the region who have quit to 73.
Telangana accounts for 119 legislators in the 294-member assembly. The Congress has 52 members, including two of the Praja Rajyam Party (PRP), which recently joined with the ruling party.
TDP has 37 members from the region while Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) has 11.
All 33 legislators of TDP and 36 of the Congress party submitted their resignations to Deputy Speaker Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka as Speaker N. Manohar is in the US.
Except Deputy Chief Minister Damodar Raja Narasimha, ministers D. Nagender, Mukesh Goud and Shankar Rao have all resigned.
In the 294-member assembly, Congress has 174 members, including 18 from the PRP.
Political observers say the government may be reduced to a minority if the resignations of 36 legislators are accepted by the speaker.
Senior minister K. Jana Reddy, who is leading the Congress ministers and legislators, told reporters that their resignations were not aimed at creating a constitutional or political crisis but to achieve a separate state in tune with the aspirations of the people.
"Today is United States' Independence Day and we hope today will also become Telangana's Independence Day," the minister said outside the assembly building.
He claimed that their fight was for self-rule and self-respect of the Telangana region.
Twelve Congress members of the legislative council have also submitted their resignations to council chairperson K. Chakrapani.
The legislators said the resignations were aimed at pressurising the central government to carve out a separate Telangana state as promised by it on Dec 9, 2009.
Ministers from Telangana have sought an appointment with Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan to submit their resignations as ministers. However, a minister K. Venkat Reddy said since the ministers have resigned as legislators they no longer continue as ministers.
Reacting to reports that the central leadership has invited them to Delhi for talks, Venkat Reddy told reporters that there was no question of going to the capital unless the centre agreed to form a separate state.
"We have already made it clear that our visit last month was the last visit to Delhi for talks," he said.
A group of ministers, who submitted their resignations, met Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy to explain the reasons for their action.
Nine MPs of Congress have reached Delhi to submit their resignations to Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar.