Parliament passes Telangana bill, state just President nod away, Parliament, Telangana Bill, Kran Kumar Reddy, Andhra Pradesh,BJP, Congress,Telangan, Seemandhra, Rajya Sabha, Parliament, Manmohan Singh.
- Category: Telangana News
- Last Updated: Thursday, 22 January 2015 20:54
Telangana crossed a major hurdle on the route to becoming India's 29th state with Parliament approving the bill .
NEW DELHI: Telangana crossed a major hurdle on the route to becoming India's 29th state with Parliament approving the bill to divide Andhra Pradesh in the face of repeated adjournments and continuous disruptions and sloganeering.
It was 8.05pm on Thursday when Rajya Sabha deputy chair P J Kurien finally declared "the bill is passed", setting off raucous celebrations among Telangana supporters in the House and in central hall where Lok Sabha MPs from the region crowded around TV sets.
The announcement was greeted with loud cheers in Hyderabad as Parliament's seal of approval makes the Telangana story practically irreversible as presidential assent and notification by gazette expected to be matters of procedure with few variables.
Political jockeying over Telangana has seen the pendulum swing wildly with Congress's indecision putting the statehood proposal on the back burner for much of the 15th Lok Sabha, until the wheel turned afresh in last few months.
The bitter opposition of Seemandhra MPs, supported by some regional parties, led to extraordinary scenes with a cordon of Congress MPs shielding Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Rajya Sabha on Thursday against aggressive Telangana opponents.
In a first, tourism minister Chiranjeevi stood up to soundly criticize the Telangana decision for being forced upon the state - a criticism of the council of ministers of which he is himself a part.
Singh intervened to assure Seemandhra MPs about the Centre's commitment to compensate for revenue losses due to the loss of Telangana territories following intense back channel negotiations between the government and the main opposition BJP.
Though they kept up their protests, Seemandhra MPs from Congress and TDP seemed increasingly reconciled to the inevitability of Telangana as they limited protests to sloganeering and holding up banners rather than physical obstruction.
The Trinamool Congress contingent, however, set a new precedent by placing itself strategically before every speaker in the discussion to raise slogans against Congress and BJP for supporting Telangana while one MP tore and flung pieces of paper.
With the government and BJP hammering out an agreement to pass the bill, the legislation was passed by a voice vote amid vociferous protests by members from Seemandhra region as also Trinamool Congress and Shiv Sena.
The bill had a rocky passage through Parliament with violence breaking out in Lok Sabha last week during its introduction that led to the suspension of 16 Seemandhra MPs after expelled Congress MP L Rajagopal unleased a pepper spray in the House.
The suspense over the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill, 2014 came to an end with the Prime Minister announcing a six-point development package for successor state of Andhra Pradesh, including grant of special category status that provides for tax incentives to Seemandhra.
As Singh rose to make his intervention, he was cordoned off by Congress MPs as members from Seemandhra region as also those from Trinamool Congress and Shiv Sena stormed the Well with TMC members even tearing papers and throwing them on the floor.
CPM MPs walked out in protest after the chair rejected demands for a division on the plea that there was no order in the House.
CPM and DMK staged a walk out before the bill was passed, while the Shiv Sena, Trinamool Congress, Samajwadi Party, AGP were among the parties that opposed the bill. BSP and CPI supported the legislation.
Seemandhra members belonging to the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) raised slogans of 'Save Andhra Pradesh, Save Democracy' near the chairman's podium during the debate on the bill while those belonging to Telangana supported it.
Veteran Congress MP K V P Ramachandra Rao, who held a placard supporting united Andhra Pradesh through the day, collapsed during the debate. The chair asked the staff to remove Rao to a hospital but the MP continued his protest by squatting on the floor.
The Upper House looked like a whirlwind had passed through it during the five-hour proceedings, which saw seven adjournments as members resorted to slogan shouting and tore papers describing the bill as illegal.
After repeated adjournments and protests by members from Seemandhra region and TMC, the house took up the bill for a threadbare discussion in the evening.
Though Congress sought credit for delivering on Telangana, it faced uncomfortable moments with tourism minister Chiranjeevi not only opposing the decision in the presence of the Prime Minister but also claiming that no state leader other than chief minister Kiran Reddy was consulted.
BJP leader Arun Jaitley asked if Chiranjeevi had the right to question a decision of the council of ministers of which he is a part.
During the proceedings rural development minister Jairam Ramesh was seen actively managing the floor and repeatedly made brief intervention to assuage the concerns of members, mainly of BJP leader Venkai Naidu on issues raised by them.
The upper house saw a heated debate spanning around three hours despite unprecedented protest with members of TMC, TDP and Shiv Sena storming the well with huge placards sometimes even overshadowing the Chair.
The proceeding was telecasted live.
While supporting the bill, Jaitley said that the process of creating Telangana by bifurcating Andhra Pradesh should be "legally correct".
"Law and order belongs to state. Governor is a representative of the central government. Can you do so (give him the powers of law and order) without amending constitution?" he asked.