Andhra legislature rocked by protests over Telangana bill
Hyderabad – Both houses of the Andhra Pradesh legislature were rocked by protests Friday as legislators from Telangana, across party lines, demanded immediate debate on the bill for a separate state while the lawmakers from Seemandhra wanted a resolution to be passed to stop the state’s bifurcation.
The state assembly was adjourned twice while the legislative council was adjourned for the day as lawmakers from Telangana and Seemandhra (Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra regions) trooped into the wells of the two houses.
With the central government sending Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill, 2013, by a special flight Thursday night, the lawmakers from Telangana demanded that the bill be taken up immediately for debate. As the bill was handed over to chief secretary, it has still not reached the assembly. Worried over the delay, ministers from Telangana called on Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy and Speaker Nadendla Manohar and demanded that the bill be immediately taken up.
Telangana Rashtra Samithi (! TRS) leaders also called on the speaker and threatened to move a breach of privilege notice against the chief secretary. TRS leader Harish Rao told reporters that Chief Secretary P.K. Mohanty was disobeying the orders of the President to immediately send the bill to the assembly.
Telangana leaders of Telugu Desam Party (TDP), Communist Party of India (CPI) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) also met the speaker, urging him to take steps for immediate debate on the bill.
As the chief minister is openly opposing formation of Telangana state, the ruling party leaders from the region are mounting pressure on the speaker not to delay debate on the bill.
On the other hand, Congress leaders from Seemandhra also met the chief minister and discussed their strategy to delay debate on the bill.
Utter pandemonium prevailed in the assembly even before the speaker entered the house.
Legislators of all the parties, including those from the ruling Congress,! besieged the speaker’s podium and raised slogans.
Those from Te! langana demanded “we want Telangana bill”, while the members from Seemandhra, opposing the bifurcation, countered them with slogans of “Jai samaikyandhra” or united Andhra.
The speaker rejected adjournment motion moved by TRS members for immediate discussion on the Telangana bill.
Legislators of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) wanted a debate on the attitude of the central and state governments in dividing the state. The YSR Congress party moved an adjournment motion for passing a resolution in the assembly to urge the centre to keep the state united.
After rejecting all adjournment motions, the speaker announced that he was adjourning the house for half an hour. When the house re-assembled after more than one-and-half hour, there was no change in the situation, forcing the speaker to adjourn the house again for another half-an-hour.
Similar scenes were witnessed in the legislative council. Chairman A. Chakrapani adjourned the house for half an hour! as members from Telangana and Seemandhra resorted to slogan shouting. As the pandemonium continued after the house re-assembled, the chairman adjourned it for the day.
The union home ministry Thursday night sent the bill to the state. A senior official brought the bill, flying in by a special aircraft.
President Pranab Mukherjee has given time till Jan 23 to the assembly to return the bill with its members’ comments.
The union cabinet Dec 5 approved the draft bill and sent it to the president with a request to refer it to the assembly under Article 3 of the Constitution.
The winter session of the assembly, which began Thursday, is scheduled to end Dec 20. The Business Advisory Committee (BAC) of the assembly will be meeting Friday evening amid demands by the legislators from Telangana that the session be extended for a debate on the bill, and their counterparts from Seemandhra are opposing this.