Telangana Bill in Parliament today; Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy may resign
New Delhi – With only four days left of the last Parliament session before national elections due by May, a desperate government is now reportedly working out how to push the controversial Telangana plan to bifurcate Andhra Pradesh through the Lok Sabha today. Without a discussion if it has to.
That will be tricky because the main opposition the BJP, whose backing the Congress-led Centre needs to pass the Telangana bill, has made it clear that while it supports the legislation, it cannot be passed in chaos and without the presence of all stakeholders in the House. It also wants certain amendments to the bill that it says will address key concerns of Seemandhra – the non-Telangana regions of Andhra Pradesh that are strongly opposed to bifurcation.
“One section of Andhra Pradesh can’t be missing,” said senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley on Monday, demanding that 16 MPs suspended for protests against Telangana, including those from the Congress, be allowed in during a discussion on the new state.
Some suggest that the BJP’s stand for Seemandhra MPs to be present in the House when Lok Sabha debates Telangana is linked to their growing proximity to the TDP’s Chandrababu Naidu, who’s opposed to the division of Andhra Pradesh. Sources say BJP is looking at the TDP as a possible post-poll ally in the south and that’s why it may not antagonise Mr Naidu.
This morning the BJP’s Venkaiah Naidu reiterated that and also denied that his party has reached an understanding with the government to allow the bill to be passed amid the expected continued chaos. A party meeting of BJP lawmakers held every Tuesday was cancelled this morning to allow top party leaders to discuss the Telangana strategy.
The government has reportedly offered to move official amendments to ensure that some of the BJP’s demands are met – like sharing revenue from the joint capital of Hyderabad.
Seemandhra is worried about a smaller share of water, power and revenue from Telangana once the new state is created. Seemandhra leaders from across parties have vowed to stall the bill at all costs.
There is a strong buzz that Andhra Pradesh chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy of the Congress could resign today to protest against the bifurcation. In Delhi, YSR Congress leader Jagan Mohan Reddy staged a dharna and courted arrest to demand that the Telangana plan be cancelled.
The Congress’ central ministers from Seemandhra met the BJP yesterday, to request it not to support the division of the state, which the Congress hopes will bring it rich electoral dividends from the Telangana region in the national elections. Kiran Kumar Reddy fears the move will decimate the party in the residuary state.
16 MPs from across parties were suspended last week after unprecedented violence in Parliament – Congress MP Lagadapati Rajagopal used pepper spray on lawmakers in the Lok Sabha and other MPs yanked mics and broke a computer. Apart from Thursday’s shameful vandalism, these lawmakers held the session to ransom, not allowing any work in Parliament.