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India’s ruling party approves formation of new state called Telangana

The city of Hyderabad and other parts of Andhra Pradesh will become India's 29th state, Telangana.

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An Indian woman laborer works in the paddy fields on the outskirts of Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, on July 20, 2011. (NOAH SEELAM/AFP/Getty Images)

India's ruling Congress Party has approved the formation of a new state called Telangana.

The state, India's 29th, would take territory — and the city of Hyderabad, location of Facebook's new India headquarters — from India’s fifth-largest state, Andhra Pradesh, according to BBC News. Telangana, landlocked and mostly agricultural, would have a population of 40 million.

Proponents for Telangana have been asking for a separate state for decades, claiming that the government of Andhra Pradesh has neglected the area.

"I support a separate state for reasons that are close to my heart," Dilip Kumar, 25, a native of Nalgonda working at a trade magazine in New Delhi, told the Los Angeles Times. "We've always been neglected. This needs to change."

India’s parliament must approve the move, but the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) also supports creating a new state.

Experts say the division of the region, with Hyderabad set to serve as joint capital for a decade, is a gamble by Congress as it tries to boost its electoral fortunes in a key state in general elections slated for next year.

And some argue that supporting Telangana as a new state sets a troubling precedent.

"Creation of Telangana state will open a Pandora's box," K.G. Suresh, a fellow at Delhi-based think-tank, Vivekanand International Foundation, told Agence France-Presse. "The message being sent out is 'you agitate for some years and you can have your own state.'"

Opponents to breaking up Andha made their disappointment known on Wednesday. Twenty-three lawmakers in the Andha state assembly, including six from the Congress Party, resigned, BBC News reported.

In parts of the state, schools, shops and cinemas shut down to protest of the Congress Party's decision.

In Vijayawada, shops had closed, Chamber of Commerce President Velampalli Ramachandra Rao told the Times of India. The Bar Association of Vijayawada asked its members to abstain from courts functions.

The state-run Andhra Pradesh Road Transport Corporation suspended service in Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra districts like Kadapa, Chittoor, Visakhapatnam and Krishna.

And huge crowds turned out for demonstrations in Visakhapatanam, Tirupati and Vijayawada.

India last redrew its internal boundaries in 2000, with the creation of three new states in economically deprived areas in the northern half of the country.

Agence France-Presse contributed to this report.
 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/india/130730/india-s-ruling-party-approves-formation-new-state-ca