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HindustanTimes Tue,30 Sep 2014

Telangana bill debate in Rajya Sabha over, voting begins

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, February 20, 2014
First Published: 12:04 IST(20/2/2014) | Last Updated: 20:09 IST(20/2/2014)

Bharatiya Janata Party's Venkaiah Naidu on Thursday started the discussion over the Telangana bill as Rajya Sabha saw at least four adjournments in two hours with unruly members continuing to stall the House.

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Naidu told the House that his party supports the bill but is concerned about the people from Seemandhra.

"We demand constitutional amendment," he said.

As members refused to allow the discussion take place smoothly, Naidu asked the House not to introduce a defective law and demanded various facilities and institutions for the Seemandhra region.

Home minister Sushilkumar Shinde had managed to introduce the Telangana bill for consideration amid repeated adjournments with the UPA government desperate to see it through as there is just one day before the current session of Parliament comes to an end.

Earlier, deputy chairman PJ Kurien tried to restore order in the House but had to adjourn it for another fifteen minutes as members continued to hold up banners that read "Illegal Bill from Lok Sabha".

It was the third adjournment since Shinde moved the bill.

Earlier, as soon as the Upper House resumed after a 10-minute adjournment, uproar continued over Telangana despite the chairman's appeals.

Hamid Ansari then called for another adjournment and asked for an all-party meeting in his chamber.

Congress members formed a ring around Shinde as Telugu Desam Party and Trinamool Congress MPs tried to prevent him from tabling the Telangana bill.

Jaitley, who was not allowed by Seemandha MPs to address Parliament, and others opposed the bill on grounds of constitutional invalidity, according to PTI.

Rajya Sabha was adjourned for the third time in the day at 2pm and then when it resumed at 3pm uproar continued over Telangana with members trooping into the Well with placards.

The chair was forced to adjourn it again till 3pm and as the same scene prevailed there were two more adjournments.

Earlier, reports had said that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday will intervene in the contentious Telangana issue to assure the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) on their concerns over the financial package to be given to the Seemandhra region after the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh.

After the Opposition and the government worked out an agreement over the passage of the Telangana bill in Rajya Sabha, BJP is likely to make amendments in the bill, according to reports.

Jaitley and senior leader Venkaiah Naidu may speak in Rajya Sabha.

Read: Will Rajya Sabha pass Telanagana bill today?

Meanwhile, both Houses of Parliament were adjourned again till 2pm. Lok Sabha was adjourned following the continuing uproar over Tamil Nadu government's decision to release convicts in Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.

The Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) met for hectic negotiations to work on a possible breakthrough on the Telangana stalemate.

Softening its stand on certain points, the BJP had sought the Prime Minister's assurance over the compensation package for Seemandhra region, NDTV said.

Senior leaders LK Advani and Jaitely met with Union home minister Shinde, parliamentary affairs minister Kamal Nath and rural development minister Jairam Ramesh over the issue.

As soon as the Upper House convened for the second time, members supporting united Andhra Pradesh trooped into the Well carrying placards and shouted slogans.

The chair then adjourned the House for 30 minutes amid the uproar.

Read: Cong, BJP talks over Telangana continue; Parliament disrupted

Parliament was adjourned till 12pm amid uproar over Tamil Nadu government's decision to release all seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case and other issues even as the Centre moved the Supreme Court against it.

The UPA government has to race against time in order to push the Telangana bill in Rajya Sabha with just a day to go for this Parliament session to end as negotiations with the BJP and Congress president Sonia Gandhi's demand for a special status for Seemandhra will play a bill role in its passage.

It could not be taken up on Wednesday as the government and the opposition could not reach any consensus over amendments in the bill.

Sonia Gandhi too spoke to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and demanded special status for Seemandhra for five years after the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh.

A senior leader from BJP said there are a total of 32 amendments which his party wants to incorporate in the bill.

However, if the bill is passed in the Upper House with amendments, it will have to go back to Lok Sabha for its approval before it is sent to the President for his assent, and the government feels this would create more trouble in the passage of the legislation.

Her intervention came after the BJP sought relief for Seemandhra (comprising coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema) through a one-time grant of Rs. 10,000 crore and other concessions such as tax relief and national status for irrigation projects.

Financial aid for Seemandhra for coming years will be decided by a finance commission, and it will come from the consolidated fund of the central government, not from the state's funds.

Read: Sonia Gandhi for special status to Seemandhra, Telangana bill in RS

Another amendment sought industrial concession for north coastal Andhra, Rayalseema and backward areas of Telangana, sources said.

Special funds for setting up the capital of Seemandhra have also been sought.

Some similar amendments have also been prepared by Congress leaders from Seemandhra.

However, a Congress MP said they were ready to drop the amendments if the government did not agree.

The BJP’s insistence on measures to make the bill palatable to the Seemandhra constituency came after it ensured its passage in Lok Sabha.

“We will support the bill come what may. We want to extract the best possible deal for Seemandhra,” a top BJP leader told HT.

At a meeting with the Prime Minister, the BJP’s Arun Jaitley and Venkaiah Naidu questioned the legal validity of the Telangana bill, which gives ultimate powers to the governor in law and order matters relating to Hyderabad.

Read: Interim CM from Seemandhra may boost Congress prospects

The BJP has suggested this be done through a constitution amendment bill, an idea that has not found favour with the government.

“We will introduce the bill in Rajya Sabha at 12 noon Thursday,” minister of state for parliamentary affairs Rajeev Shukla said.

The BJP will move about two dozen-odd amendments but the government does not want to accept any of them, since it would require sending the bill to the Lower House again.

And with the 16 suspended Lok Sabha MPs back in the House on Friday, it would make it that much harder for the government to get an amended bill passed.

Rural development minister Ramesh has conveyed to the BJP that he will get back to them with a list of sops the government may announce for Seemandhra.

Full coverage: The Telangana tangle

What Venkaiah Naidu said in Rajya Sabha during Telangana bill debate

Seemandhra has 60% of AP's population and just 40% AP's revenue

We support Telangana, but we are concerned about people of Seemandhra

Venkaiah Naidu demands various facilities, institutions for Seemandhra region in Rajya Sabha

You provide for the people of Seemandhra then divide AP

Proper atmosphere has to be created before Telangana is created, but govt is not bothered

Centre should also evolve a mechanism for sharing of Krishna waters between Telengana and Seemandhra

Seemandhra should get special status

Centre should announce a Rs. 10,000 crore package for Seemandhra

The real culprit in this entire issue is Congress

All parties have agreed for the divide

We are not dividing the country but the state for administrative convenience

We want brotherly division of Andhra

Venkaiah Naidu calls the Telangana issue an election gimmick by the Congress in Rajya Sabha.

BJP wants a peaceful division of the state

All parties should speak to each other to ensure justice for Seemandhra

Congress should not indulge in votebank politics


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