Vizianagaram, once a sleepy town in coastal Andhra, is today the hotbed of protests against the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh. Shoot-at-sight orders have been issued here after incessant violent protests.
State Congress chief Botsa Sathyanarayana, who hails from Vizianagaram, has become the target for angry protesters, as many anti-Telanagna activists had hoped that he would be able to stop the division of the state.
In a candid chat with Rediff.com’s Vicky Nanjappa, Botsa declares that he has stood by the people and he would ensure that Andhra Pradesh remains united.
“My property has been damaged in the protests, but I understand the pain of the people. I am in the eye of the storm because I have not resigned. I am equally pained by what has been happening and I wanted to quit. But we need people in the assembly to defeat the bill and that will not happen if I quit.
"I appeal to all protesters to have some patience. We will defeat the bill at any cost and ensure that Andhra Pradesh is united. I have even gone to Tirupathi temple and sought the blessings of the lord to keep the state united. We need to have people in the assembly to defeat the bill. We do not want to rub our high command the wrong way. They will see reason and consider the voice of the majority.
"I do understand that the opinion of the assembly in such matters is not mandatory. But no one will form a state if the majority does not approve of it. We are sure that a precedent will be followed. Never in the history has a state been formed when the state assembly has opposed it.
"I am very worried for the people of the state. I request the police to provide protection to all people. I am confident that all issues will be resolved. I know I am the target, but people will realise that it I who stood by the people. I am not being targeted because of the Telangana issue because people know I always stood for a unified state. I feel there is some other reason for this; it could be due to caste issues. However, all that is not on my mind right now. I will ensure that Andhra Pradesh remains united”.
Image: Policemen chase protesters in Vizianagaram ' Photograph: Snapsindia