Telangana: MPs in southern India quit over new state

anti-Telangana protesters vandalised a statue of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in Kurnool district.
Image caption In Kurnool, anti-Telangana protesters vandalised a statue of ex-PM Rajiv Gandhi

Twelve Congress party legislators have resigned in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh to protest against the decision to create a new Telangana state.

This brings the number of legislators who have quit the regional assembly since last week to 36.

Meanwhile, protests are continuing in the state for a third day, with schools, colleges and businesses shut.

Those against the state's bifurcation have also staged rallies.

The state has seen protests for and against the proposal in recent years.

Telangana, with a population of 35 million, comprises 10 of Andhra Pradesh's 23 districts.

The state capital and India's sixth biggest city, Hyderabad, will be included in the new state, although for the first 10 years it will serve as the joint capital of the two states.

Backers of the new state say the area has been neglected by the government.

Opponents of the move are unhappy that Hyderabad, home to many major information technology and pharmaceutical companies, will become a shared state capital.

Some of the ministers in the Andhra Pradesh state government and some MPs from the state have also offered to resign, the BBC's Omer Farooq reports from Hyderabad.

On Thursday, anti-Telangana protesters vandalised a statue of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in Kurnool district.

The protests have been called by the United Andhra Joint Action Committee which opposes the division of the state.

Hundreds of paramilitary troops have been deployed after Tuesday's announcement.

The final decision on a new state lies with the Indian parliament. The state assembly must also pass a resolution approving the creation of what will be India's 29th state.

Correspondents say the timing of the announcement is linked to general elections due early next year. Recent opinion polls have shown that the Congress party is struggling in the state, which has 42 parliamentary seats.

The move to create Telangana has sparked off similar demands in the states of West Bengal and Assam too.

The main Gorkha ethnic group in West Bengal state has called an indefinite strike in the tea-producing Darjeeling region from Saturday.

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