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The passage of Telangana Bill in Lok Sabha today sparked celebrations across the ten districts of Andhra Pradesh even as Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy, strongly espousing the cause for keeping the state united, appeared set to quit his post in protest.
Pro-integrationists denounced the move and seemed downcast as stage is now set for the creation of a separate state of Telangana once the Rajya Sabha also gives its nod.
YSR Congress, in the forefront of the agitation against division of Andhra Pradesh, has called for a bandh tomorrow in the state in protest against the passage of Telangana Bill.
"This is the black day in the history of this country," YSRC president and Kadapa MP, Y S Jaganmohan Reddy, told reporters in Delhi.
The ruling Congress suffered a setback in Coastal Andhra, with state Infrastructure and Investment Minister Ganta Srinivasa Rao quitting his post and the party in protest against the Centre going ahead with the state's division.
"A decision (regarding division) was taken against people's wishes...," said Rao, a former MP and an influential leader in north coastal Andhra, who was elected in 2009 from Anakapalle in Visakhapatnam district on the ticket of Chiranjeevi's Praja Rajyam, which later merged with Congress.
A defiant N Kiran Kumar Reddy has invited his loyalist ministers and legislators for a meeting tomorrow to formally communicate his decision to quit, according to state Social Welfare Minister Pitani Satyanarayana.
"The Chief Minister will address a press conference at 10.45 AM and then proceed to Raj Bhavan to hand over his resignation to Governor E S L Narasimhan," the minister, one of the his close followers, said.
As the news of the passage trickled in, chants of "Jai Telangana" rented the air in many parts of the region, where a festive atmosphere prevailed with the separate statehood supporters bursting crackers, distributing sweets, taking out victory rallies and dancing to the tunes of popular songs hailing Telangana.
A large number of students gathered in Osmania University here, the nerve-centre of separate statehood agitation, and danced in joy.
Congress activists at some places in Telangana rejoiced distributing sweets and held pictures showing their party president Sonia Gandhi in the image of 'Telangana Talli' (Telangana mother).
"Greetings to Telangana people. This is the result of a long struggle. The Telangana Bill will be passed in Rajya Sabha tomorrow. We thank Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, BJP leaders Sushma Swaraj, CPI General Secretary Sudhakar Reddy and