South Asia

India lawmakers' mass resignation for Telangana state

File picture of pro-Telangana protests
Image caption Violent protests have taken place in Andhra Pradesh

Dozens of lawmakers from India's Andhra Pradesh state have resigned over their demand for the creation of a new state in southern India called Telangana.

So far 78 legislators from the ruling Congress and opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) have quit. Ten MPs have also resigned.

Andhra Pradesh saw violent protests for and against the proposal last year.

Correspondents say the resignations could destabilise the Congress government in the southern state.

Forty-two of the party's 167 lawmakers have submitted their resignations to the deputy speaker of the assembly. They include 11 ministers.

A minority government could lead to fresh elections there or direct rule from the centre.

An official report on the proposal for Telangana set out a range of options, which included maintaining the status quo, granting greater powers for Telangana within Andhra Pradesh and full-blown statehood.

The BBC's Soutik Biswas in Delhi says the resignations, cutting across party lines, will plunge Andhra Pradesh into a fresh round of unrest.

With a population of 40 million, the proposed Telangana state comprises 10 of Andhra Pradesh's 23 districts, including the state capital and India's sixth most populous city, Hyderabad.

All the legislators who have resigned belong to the Telangana region - there are 117 lawmakers in the 294-seat assembly who belong to the area.

And the party leading the demand for statehood, the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS), is sticking to its position.

Opponents of the move are unhappy that Hyderabad, home to many major information technology and pharmaceutical companies, could become Telangana's new capital.

The final decision on a new state lies with the Indian parliament. But the state assembly must also pass a resolution approving its creation.

Deep divisions have emerged over the Telangana issue in the past year.

In December 2009, India's Congress party-led government promised that the new state would be formed but later said more talks were needed.

The announcement prompted widespread protests in the state, and a student committed suicide in support of the formation of Telangana.

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