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HindustanTimes Tue,02 Sep 2014

Pranab wary, ordinance for Seemandhra as good as dead?

Aloke Tikku & Aurangzeb Naqshbandi, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, March 08, 2014
First Published: 00:53 IST(8/3/2014) | Last Updated: 10:08 IST(8/3/2014)

The anti-corruption ordinances backed by Rahul Gandhi may not be the only ones to be spiked by the government. The ordinance on a special package for Seemandhra — which was approved by cabinet, unlike the graft laws — seems headed the same way.

The government appears to have developed cold feet on the proposed law that seeks to tweak Telangana’s boundary ever since an emissary to Rashtrapati Bhavan on Monday returned with the clear message that President Pranab Mukherjee wasn’t going to play ball.

A senior government functionary confirmed to HT that the cabinet-approved ordinance was as good as dead, but was quick to add that it may already have served its political objective.

Read: Rahul Gandhi loses ordinance fight

The home ministry had proposed the ordinance to pacify Seemandhra politicians, who blamed the Congress-led coalition for splitting the state without addressing their concerns.

The ordinance seeks to tweak boundaries around the temple town of Bhadrachalam to ease the rehabilitation of people displaced by the proposed Polavaram irrigation project.  It also increases power allocation to Seemandhra at Telangana’s expense.

Read: India's 29th state Telangana will be born on June 2

Soon after Sunday’s special cabinet meeting, rural development minister Jairam Ramesh had announced that changes to the Andhra Pradesh re-organisation Act had been approved. He had subsequently travelled across Seemandhra crediting the Congress leadership with protecting the interests of the region.

Apart from concerns over an outgoing government promulgating an ordinance to split a state, Rashtrapati Bhavan was apparently worried about whether the ordinance was on a firm legal footing.

Read: RS gives nod, Telangana set to become 29th state

The Centre, after all, is seeking to alter a state’s boundary through an ordinance for the very first time — the reason why the CPI-M’s Prakash Karat asked the President not to sign the ordinance.

Asked if the ordinance had been formally sent to the President, Seemandhra leader and minister of state JD Seelam — who met Mukherjee on Monday — told HT he wasn’t aware where the file was lying. “There is no ordinance,” he added glumly.

Read: Telangana tension: top 10 T-bill episodes

While Ramesh had promised to take the process of amending the Act forward, government sources said this was unlikely since the next government would bring its own version of amendments. Since the two states would have been formed by then, this would mean that the home ministry would have to go through the entire process of seeking the Telangana assembly’s views before tweaking its boundary.

Full Coverage: Telangana, the troubled state


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