Parliament nod to Talangana, AP CM resigns, BJP forces PM to announce special package for Seemandhra
N Nagaraja Rao
After getting nod from both Houses of the Parliament, Telangana is now just President’s signature away to become a reality as 29thstate of the Indian Union. The Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill was passed in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha amidst unprecedented pandemonium that forced the government to block even live broadcast of the proceedings. In Rajya Sabha also on February 20, some MPs tore paper and yelled ‘tear the bill, throw the bill’ and crowded. The BJP forced the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to declare a special package for Seemandhra, the regions that will form the residuary state once Telangana is carved out.
After days of unruly protests that saw Congress MPs from Seemandhra suspended from the party, the Bill’s hurried clearance in the Lok Sabha was made possible with the UPA acceding to BJP’s demand that Seemandhra be appropriately rewarded with a generous financial package. Thus BJP has backed the creation of the new state which will have 119 Assembly and 17 Lok Sabha seats.
While celebrations erupted among Telangana supporters, Seemandhra leaders decided to move petitions in the Supreme Court against the new state and political parties called for Bandh in protest against the bifurcation. The fall-out in the Seemandhra region included a announcement of political sannyas by Vijayawada Congress MP Lagadapati Rajagopal and resignations from their positions and the party by Union ministers and state minister from Seemandhra regions.
As Lok Sabha passed the Bill, Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy announced his resignation apparently failing to stall state’s division. After openly defying the Congress leadership following its decision in July last year to split the state, Reddy finally put in his paper, saying a grave injustice was done to Telugu-speaking people by dividing them for political benefits. He also resigned from the Congress Party.
The party hopes that creation of Telangana would turn the elections into a thanksgiving with voters flocking to its fold. But again the losses in the Andhra region are colossal compared to the gains in Telangana region. However, in residuary Andhra Pradesh, the Congress cannot be expected to get a single seat from the 25 Lok Sabha berths. This is compared to its 33 Lok Sabha seats it won in the 2009 elections and 29 in the 2004 elections. Also TRS Chief K Chandrasekar Rao is understood to have dodging the issue of merger with Congress giving jitters to Telangana Congress leaders. TRS believes their stock is high after passage of the Bill and regional party may lose its identity and it is averse to playing second fiddle to the Congress. Telangana State being almost a reality now it faces the hard task of accommodating its own loyalists then heeding to Congress demands.
BJP’s support to the Bill was crucial and snuffed out the hopes of Telangana opponents — from TDP leader N Chandrababu Naidu and YSR Congress chief Jaganmohan Reddy to Congress’s own rebel Seemandhra contingent to campaigned endlessly hoping to stall the bifurcation process and YSR Congress even pledged its support to Narendra Modi. Politically for the BJP, consistent advocacy of statehood of Telangana and support for the Bill stemmed from the fact that it did not want to inherit the “mess” created by Congress. Increasingly confident of majority of its own BJP did not bite the bullet of Telangana opponents offer and subsequent political Patronage. BJP is now likely to harp on the fact that it is only with their help that the Telangana Bill was passed.
Political analysts, however, aver that the benefit of this may not accrue to the party immediately. But in a few years, the BJP will be a formidable force in the region.
Ruckus in UP Assembly
Uttar Pradesh Assembly witnessed an unprecedented scene on February 19 when two RLD members turn off their shirts in the House in protest against the SP government’s nexus with the sugar industry owners in the state. Other Opposition MLAs also raised flags, stormed into Well and stood on the table while interrupting Governor’s speech.
The stunned women MLAs covered their faces with scarves and sheets of paper and later decided to register their protest with the speaker. The women MLAs were equally annoyed by parliamentary affairs minister Azam Khan’s response, who instead of restraining the two MLAs urged the Governor to continue his speech and “pay no heed to their shameful act”. When he spoke to reporters outside the assembly, his remarks appeared as indecent as the duo’s act. “We got to see only half of their manhood. Had they stripped fully, we would have got to see how manly they are and they too would have earned some international publicity,” he said.
The Bharatiya Janata Party MLAs boycotted the Governor’s speech and they were out of the House, while other opposition MLAs were holding banners and placards blaming the Government for “anti-farmer policies, goonda raj, loot, dacoity and murders”. They also raised anti-Government slogans. The BSP MLAs stood on their seats and entered the Well of the House demanding dismissal of the Government.
Amid the uproar, two RLD members, Vir Pal Singh Rathi and Sudesh Sharma, took off their shirts and waistcoats and climbed on the seats to register their protest. While Rathi was completely bare-chested, Sharma wore an innerwear as they waved their shirts and banners towards the podium.
Referring to the RLD members’ form of protest, BJP leader, Hukum Singh, said the House had witnessed an unprecedented scene with some members going half-naked. He said he expected the Parliamentary Affairs Minister (Mohammad Azam Khan) to ask the members to wear their clothes and restore order, but he failed.
Misconceived compassion may open a Pandora Box
As was feared, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa’s decision to release the killers of Rajiv Gandhi soon after the Supreme Court converted their death sentence into life imprisonment, has given a tool to the advocates of terrorists. Even the seasoned politicians like Union Minister Farooq Abdullah missed no time to say that the ‘hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal was absolutely unjustified’. PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti too did not leg behind and said ‘Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru deserved the same reprieve that has been given to Rajiv Gandhi assassins’.
Though the Supreme Court has stayed the implementation of Jayalalithaa’s decision on February 20 over the plea of the central government saying there have been procedural lapses on the part of Tamil Nadu government in the matter, Tamil Nadu government’s decision, taken for gaining political mileage has opened a Pandora box. The Supreme Court on February 18 had commuted the death sentence of three condemned prisoners in Rajiv Gandhi assassination case to life imprisonment on the ground of 11 years delay in deciding their mercy plea by the Centre.
Reacting strongly over the TN government decision former Union Law minister and senior BJP leader Dr Subrama-nian Swamy demanded imposition of President’s Rule in the state if the Chief Minister pushes for release of Rajiv Gandhi’s killers. He said any move to release former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s killers would be ‘illegal’.
Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Shri Arun Jaitley described it a ‘misconceived compassion’. “A large number of death convicts have recently got commutation of sentence on account of delay. Somebody has to be held accountable as to why and where these delays have been caused. The latest case of relief to the assassins of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi is unconscionable. After assassinating a former Prime Minister of the country there can be institutional compassion for such persons is difficult to comprehend. Those who commit such heinous crimes cannot be made symbol of identity politics. Nothing more can hurt national security.Terrorism is an offence against the Country. It must attract a deterrent punishment,” Shri Jaitley said in a statement.