With the deadline for the Centre's decision on the vexatious Telangana statehood issue approaching fast, the war of words between leaders of Telangana and Andhra-Rayalaseema regions has escalated.
While Andhra-Rayalaseema leaders are brushing aside their Telangana counterparts' claims on 'signals' of formation of a new state as 'mere speculation', the latter aver that the former are in a state of "desperation" as Telangana state would become a reality soon.
In view of this, Congress leaders, including ministers, members of Parliament and legislators, from Andhra-Rayalaseema will meet in Hyderabad tomorrow to chalk out their course of action amid threats by Telangana protagonists not to let the meeting happen.
The Telangana Rashtra Samiti sees a conspiracy by 'Seemaandhra forces' to thwart creation of Telangana state at a time when the Centre appeared to be favourably-inclined towards it.
TRS leader T Harish Rao slammed the Andhra-Rayalaseema leaders and alleged that the Chief Minister was encouraging them.
State Panchayat Raj Minister K Jana Reddy and Telangana Joint Action Committee representatives met at former Congress MP K Keshava Rao's residence in Hyderabad on Wednesday and demanded that the Andhra-Rayalaseema leaders cancel their proposed meeting.
The JAC leaders also announced that they would accept nothing less than a Telangana state with Hyderabad as capital. In Vijayawada, Union Minister for M M Pallam Raju
sought to debunk some Telangana ministers' claim over the last few days that they received signals from the Centre on formation of a new state.
"It's mere speculation," he remarked. Guntur MP Rayapati Sambasiva Rao also asserted that the Congress high command would never send out any signals ahead of a crucial decision.
"If at all the Centre decides to divide the state, we will resign from our posts," Rayapati said in Guntur.
Union Minister of State for Tourism K Chiranjeevi, after a meeting with Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy on a different issue, refused to be drawn into a debate on the statehood issue and maintained that he would abide by the party high command's decision.
State Infrastructure and Investments Minister Ganta Srinivasa Rao, after coming under attack from Telangana forces over his threat to resign and step up an agitation for a
unified state, clarified that neither Chiranjeevi nor the chief minister were behind his statement.
"We will certainly step up the agitation for a united AP," he said in Visakhapatnam on Wednesday.
Health Minister D L Ravindra Reddy, speaking in his native Mydukuru, observed that the possibility of state bifurcation was '50-50'. "Telangana state may or may not be created," he said.
In Hyderabad, local ministers Danam Nagender and Mukesh Goud recalled their earlier letter to the Congress high command wherein they sought 'special state' status for Hyderabad in the event of state bifurcation.
"We hope the party will consult us on this before taking a decision on division of AP," they said.