AP Reorganisation Bill-2013
N Nagaraja Rao
The draft of the Telangana Bill also called Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill-2013, was finally tabled this week in the AP Assembly. Pandemonium broke out with battle lines drawn between the Pro-Telangana and Seemandhra legislators irrespective of the parties they represent. While pro-Telangana members cutting across the party lines are demanding that the government take up debate on the draft bill on top priority, the Seemandhra lobby led by Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy is determined to press for a resolution to be passed, before considering any discussion on the Bill.
Unprecedented scenes were witnessed in the AP assembly, legislators burnt and torn up copies of the draft , gheraoed the Speaker for hours in his chambers and manhandled one another in a day of high drama that began with the tabling of the Bill . Similar pandemonium was witnessed in the legislative council. Significantly, Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy was conspicuous by his absence in the assembly .On the directive of the Speaker, Assembly secretary S Raja Sadaram tabled the AP Reorganisation Bill-2013, and handed over a copy to Speaker.
It may be recalled that the President has referred the draft Bill to the Assembly and set a six-week deadline for conveying its opinions to him. The Bill provides for a common governor for both the “successor states of AP and Telangana for such period as may be determined by the President.” The governor is also entrusted a “special responsibility for the security of life, liberty and property of all those who reside” in the common capital of Hyderabad.
The hub of the Telangana Struggle, Osmania University once again turned a battleground when hundreds of students pelted stones at the police and marched from Arts College to the NCC gate demanding changes in the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill-2013. The protesting students said they wanted the Central Government to scrap the Polavaram project, make Hyderabad joint capital for only five years and also withdraw cases levelled against them in various police stations. They also burnt the effigy of some Seemandhra political leaders on campus.
A divided cabinet into Pro and anti-Telangana have brought the state governance to a stand still and so are the state government employees holding demonstrations during the lunch hour Scuffles between the Pro Telangana and Seemandhra employees are the order of the day keeping the police on the tenter hooks throughout the day.
The Chief Minister is believed to have expressed his displeasure at the Congress High command and also the speaker for getting the Bill tabled in the House without consulting him. The Chief Minister insists on a meeting of the Business Advisory Committee (BAC) should be held before the Bill is debated in the assembly. The Chief Minister is putting up a brave front again emphasising that there are several lacunae in the Bill and that the division of the state was not possible unless and until Article 371 (D) is amended or deleted. The CM’s camp is firm on the issue of amendment of Article 371(D), which ensures reservations in jobs and education for locals, before taking up the division and seeking more time.
State BJP which all along supported the Telangana cause in a scathing attack on the Congress echoed similar sentiments and expressed serious doubts about the Centre tabling the Bill in Parliament before the general elections are notified in March next year. Prakash Javadekar, who was in Hyderabad to attend a “Run For Unity “organised by BJP said the Congress way of approaching state division as ‘vote bank politics,’ and there is little possibility of Congress tabling the bill in the ongoing session and before Lok Sabha polls. Parliament is likely to meet in February for a few days,thus it shall not be tabled in the near future.
Analysts said the latest statements by BJP leaders assume significance as it might dampen spirits by Telangana enthusiasts and the passage of the T-Bill in Parliament could fall through if the UPA Government fails to muster enough numbers for smooth passage of the Bill. The arithmetic of getting numbers in the parliament is as even tough. While BJP has 114 votes in the 537-member Lok Sabha, the Samajwadi Party (SP) with 22 seats has clearly said it would not support the division of AP, Trinamool Congress (19), AIDMK (9), Biju Janata Dal (14), the numbers are slowly swaying against the formation of Telangana. The irony is even the Congress with 205 seats cannot ensure full support of its own party members as its seven MPs from Seemandhra are opposed to it and even issued notice to move a no-trust motion against its own government.
Telangana Rashtra Samithi too is treading cautiously and regretted the delay in formation of Telangana state and perceives that the process may be completed before the last session of the Parliament ends in February.
One thing is certain that the state is now divided on regional lines and any structured debate seemed very unlikely as many legislators are unwilling to allow. Thus UPA Government failed to bring everyone on board with regard to the formation of Telangana as the country’s 29th state, the opportunistic Congress is now eyeing upon the elections with no commitment for the cause they claim to espouse.