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Andhra Pradesh assembly rejects Telangana Bill

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Hyderabad – Andhra Pradesh legislature on Thursday rejected the Telangana bill by voice vote, capping days of acrimonious drama and embarrassing Congress, but posing no real hurdle in the way of creation of the new state.

Dominated by Seemandhra MLAs, numbering 160 in the house with an effective strength of 279, including the speaker and the chief minister, the assembly discarded the Centre-backed AP Reorganisation Bill 2013, on which no division was taken.

Amid high drama, Speaker Nadendla Manohar put the resolution moved by chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy seeking rejection of the Bill for consideration and it was carried by voice vote.

The resolution said: “The House while rejecting the AP Reorganisation Bill, 2013, resolves to request the Honourable President of India not to recommend it for introduction in Parliament as the Bill seeks to bifurcate the state of Andhra Pradesh without any reason/basis and without arriving at a consensus, in utter disregard to the linguistic and cultural homogeneity and economic and administrative viability of both regions.

“The Bill also completely ignores the very basis of formation of State of Andhra Pradesh, the first linguistic state created in independent India,” it said.

The Bill, which seeks to create a separate state of Telangana, was referred to the legislature by the President under Article 3 of the Constitution for eliciting its views and it is not incumbent upon the Centre to go by the opinion of the legislature.

The Centre has already decided to table the Bill in Parliament in the session beginning on February 5.

“As the time given by the President for the house to debate the Bill is coming to an end on Thursday, there is a need to conclude the discussion thereon. The Bill was tabled in the house on December 16 and 86 members participated in the debate. Almost all members expressed their views in writing and they shall form part of the official record,” Manohar said.

Since the resolution moved by the government has been approved, the speaker said he saw no reason to take up 10 private resolutions of other members on the same subject.

He said 9,072 proposals for amendments/expression of views on the clauses of the Bill were submitted by members in writing and they too would form part of the official record.

“As agreed to in the Business Advisory Committee meeting, these records will be submitted to the President of India as the views of this house,” Manohar said.

In the legislative council, chairman A Chakrapani put the government resolution moved by leader of the house C Ramachandraiah to vote and it was carried by voice vote.

The chairman announced that 54 members participated in the discussion on the Bill while almost all submitted their views in writing.

1,157 amendments/expression of views were also submitted in writing on various clauses of the Bill.

Congress, however, quickly played down the development, saying it was on “predicted” lines and will not affect the move for creation of Telangana.

“As far as the resolution is concerned, it does not affect the Constitutional provisions under Article 3 for creation of a new state in the Indian Union … One should remember that the bill was sent (to Andhra Pradesh assembly) for comments and not for a vote,” AICC general secretary in charge of Andhra Pradesh Digvijaya Singh said in Delhi.

TRS president K Chandrasekhar Rao, who has been in the forefront of the Telangana movement, said Parliament has sovereign power over formation of new states and the rejection of the Bill by the state legislature would not impact creation of Telangana.

The Lok Sabha elections would be held in “two states (post division of Andhra Pradesh)”, a confident Rao said, adding the separate state would be a reality in 15 days.

Rao said he would go to Delhi on Friday and try to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and BJP president Rajnath Singh on the issue.

Both Congress and BJP have been strong votaries of Telangana state.

Asked if his party would now merge with Congress, he said the question would come up only after the Telangana bill is passed in Parliament.

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