Telangana Bill crosses Lok Sabha hurdle, sets off wild celebrations

Written by PTI | New Delhi | Updated: Feb 19 2014, 01:52am hrs
TelanganaThe Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill, 2014 was adopted by voice vote along with 38 official amendments, with main opposition BJP coming on board. Express photo: Ravi Kanojia
The process of forming the country's 29th state moved a step closer to realisation today with the Lok Sabha passing a historic bill to carve Telangana out of Andhra Pradesh amid din and strong protests by members from Seemandhra region, including ministers.

The Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill, 2014, which has been hanging fire for long, was adopted by voice vote along with 38 official amendments, with main opposition BJP coming on board.

The House looked like a virtual battle-ground during the 90-minute proceedings as members resorted to slogan-shouting to protest against passage of the bill. Live telecast by Lok Sabha TV was stopped, perhaps the first time.

Some Congress members formed a human wall around top leaders, including Sonia Gandhi and Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, to prevent any protesting member to reach them.

Moving the bill for consideration and passage, Shinde said the Centre will give special financial package to Seemandhra, residual part of Andhra Pradesh, to address the grievances of the people of that region.

He said the bill seeks to meet the democratic aspirations of the people of Telangana region by reorganising the existing state into two separate states.

"I would like to reassure members of this House that we have tried our best to accommodate the concerns of all the stakeholders and mitigate the impact of the bifurcation of the state as much as possible," he added.

The bill, which has led to immense rise of tempers in Seemandhra region, was passed after brief speeches by Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj and minister Jaipal Reddy, a pro-Telangana leader from Andhra Pradesh.

The bill was introduced in the House on February 13 amid unprecedented scenes marked by fisticuffs, pepper spraying and breaking of House articles. 16 MPs belonging to Seemandhra region were suspended and could not attend the House today.

A number of amendments moved by AIMIM member Asaduddin Owaisi and Trinamool Congress member Sougata Roy were negated.

Many members protested the way the bill was passed in the din, saying it was against democratic norms and a "black day" in the country's democracy.

The bill was introduced in the House on February 13 amid unprecedented scenes marked by fisticuffs, pepper spraying and breaking of House articles. The suspended MPs could not attend the House today.

The MPs from Seemandhra, a region comprising coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema districts, have been attacking the Centre's move saying injustice was being done to them. The bill was being enacted in "undue haste" and that too in the last days of the 15th Lok Sabha, they contend.

Swaraj, who spoke as per an understanding with the government, said her party supports the creation of Telangana but attacked the way it was being done.

"I and my party support the Bill...Telangana should be formed...We rise to prove our credibility and to see wishes of youth of Telangana are fulfilled," Swaraj said amid vociferous protest by members from CPI(M), Samajwadi Party and Trinamool Congress in the Well.

Rejecting Kamal Nath's charge that BJP was playing a double game by supporting the bill and also calling it unconstitutional, she told the media later that the provision giving law and order powers to the Governor was "unconstitutionall".

"You bring a Constitutional amendment and we will support. But a Constitutional provision was being brought in through an amendment in an ordinary law," she said.

She said it was the Congress party which was playing a double game. Its own Chief Minister was staging a dharna in the state opposiing the decision of the government at the Centre headed by his own prime minister, she said.

Charging Congress with mishandling the issue of Telangana, she recalled that the BJP-led NDA had created three states during its tenure at the Centre without any disruption in Parliament or in any region.

Accusing the Congress of delaying the process of Telangana formation, the Leader of the Opposition said though the ruling party had promised Telangana way back in May 2004, it brought it at the fag end of the 15th Lok Sabha.

"You have been in power in the last ten years, but you did nothing. You just sat over it", she told Congress President Sonia Gandhi.

In the bill, which will now go to Rajya Sabha for approval, the government has promised to set up an expert committee within 45 days of formation of Telangana to give suggestions for a new capital of residuary Andhra Pradesh.

It envisages that Hyderabad will be common capital of Telangana and Seemandhra for ten years which includes the existing area notified as Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation.

The Centre also tried to address the grievances of Seemandhra region by promising to take appropriate fiscal measures, including offer of tax incentives to the successor states, to promote industrialisation and economic growth in both states.

Moving the bill for consideration, Shinde said the Centre will give special financial package to Seemandhra, residual part of Andhra Pradesh, to address the grievances of the people of that region.

A number of amendments moved by AIMIM member Asaduddin Owaisi and Trinamool Congress member Sougata Roy were negated.

Many members protested the way the bill was passed in the din, saying it was against the democratic norms and a "black day" in the country's democracy.

The Bill was passed after a very brief discussion in which only Swaraj and minister Jaipal Reddy, who hails from Telangana, spoke.

The House looked a virtual battle-ground with Congress members protecting Shinde and other top leaders from protesting members.

It also saw CPI(M) and Trinamool Congress as strange bedfellows with the arch rivals in West Bengal politics opposing the creation of Telangana.

To avoid any pepper-spray type situation, Congress MPs like Haroon Rashid, Lal Singh, Bhakta Charan Das, Hamdullah Syed, Mahabal Mishra and others formed a cordon around the front rows of the treasury benches where UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and the Home Minister were seated.

However, Rashid and Singh, as well as a Left member were later seen distributing lozenges to the slogan-shouting MPs in the Well to help them soothe their throats.

An emotional Congress MP Ponnam Prabhakar touched the feet of Congress President Sonia Gandhi, shortly before the Lok Sabha adopted the controversial bill to create a separate Telangana. The MP from Karimnagar bowed before Gandhi as she left the House for a while.

After the bill was passed and the House was adjourned, Prabhakar sought to take out posters depicting Gandhi but was promptly told by her not to do so.

TRS chief K Chandrashekhar Rao, a prime proponent of Telangana, was seen walking to Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj and thanking her for BJP support to the bill.

As the House took up clause-by-clause adoption of the measure, some CPI(M) members for the first time came to the well protesting against the creation of Telangana. However, their CPI comrades supported the bill's passage.

TMC members stormed the well and shouted slogans like 'aaj ka din kala hai, Congress-BJP joda hai', 'aaj ka din kala hai, Rahul-Modi joda hai' and 'Sushma-Sonia jodi hai'.

When minister S Jaipal Reddy said the demand for separate Telangana goes back to 60 years and wondered whether Andhra was "sleeping like Kumbhakarna all these years", Gandhi was seen suggesting to him not to use any harsh word.

Also seeking to take credit was Swaraj, who said, "After the passage of the bill, you start giving credit to Sonia Gandhi...but don't forget this 'Chinnamma' (a little mother- a reference to herself)."