Hyderabad: The demand for keeping Andhra Pradesh united echoed at a meeting attended by President Pranab Mukherjee in Anantapur town when a state minister urged him to ensure that Andhra is not divided.
Primary Education Minister S. Sailajanath appealed to the president at a public meeting to respect the sentiments of the majority of Telugu people by keeping the state united.
Amid loud cheers by the audience, he told the president that he is the hope of Telugu people.
The minister made the appeal in his speech in Mukherjee`s presence at the concluding programme of the birth centenary celebrations of former president Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy.
Sailajanath, who heads the group of ministers and Congress leaders from Seemandhra (Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra) opposing the bifurcation, also met the president and submitted a memorandum.
The minister said the interests of Telugu people could be protected only if the state remains united.
Elsewhere in the town, police arrested students of S. K. University as they were planning to take out a rally to meet President Mukherjee and submit a memorandum to oppose proposed bifurcation. They were denied permission by the authorities.
Elaborate security arrangements were made in the town in view of the protests planned by the students and other groups. Hundreds of policemen were deployed around Sanjeeva Reddy stadium, where the president attended the meeting.
Revenue Minister Raghuveera Reddy said united Andhra activists could meet the President in Hyderabad, where he is on southern sojourn.
Meanwhile, chief minister`s office has termed the report in a section of media as `baseless` that Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy discussed Telangana issue with the president during his meeting Sunday. The CMO clarified that it was only a courtesy call.
The president Dec 12 sent the bill for formation of a separate Telangana state to Andhra Pradesh assembly for its views.
The assembly is likely to debate the bill from Jan 3 and send its views to the president by Jan 23. Leaders of parties demanding and opposing separate Telangana state were meeting Mukherjee here and arguing their case.
Seemandhra legislators of Telugu Desam Party Sunday urged President Mukherjee to recall the bill, while leaders of Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) requested him to ensure that the process for formation of Telangana state is expedited.