In a major embarrassment to the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre, the Andhra Pradesh assembly on Thursday rejected the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill of 2013 meant for granting statehood to the Telangana region.
In a dramatic turn of events on the last day of the session, Speaker Nadendla Manohar put a resolution seeking to reject the Telangana bill to a voice vote and declared it adopted. Members from Telangana stormed the well demanding rejection of the resolution, following which the Speaker adjourned the House sine die.
The resolution, which had been moved by chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy earlier in the week, read: “The assembly resolves to request the President not to recommend the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill for introduction in Parliament as it seeks to bifurcate the state without any reason/basis. The bill has been sent to the assembly in utter disregard (of) linguistic homogeneity and administrative viability”.
Reacting to the development, the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TSR), which has been fighting for a separate Telangana state for over a decade, expressed confidence that Thursday’s development in Andhra Pradesh assembly would have no bearing and that the centre would pass the Telangana bill in parliament in February. KT Rama Rao , son of TSR chief K Chandrasekhar Rao, said, “What happened in the assembly was a mere formality which would not have any implications on the Telangana state formation. I appeal to the people of Telangana not to be agitated”.
The Congress is keen to pass the Telangana bill in the February session, ahead of the forthcoming general election, to improve its electoral prospects in the Telangana region.
The Seemandhra legislators, who have been opposing bifurcation of the state, were, on the other hand, ecstatic at the development and declared it a big victory for them.
The Andhra Pradesh assembly, which was convened to take up the Telangana bill about a month ago, had remained virtually paralysed for the most part as the legislators from both the camps fought bitterly over the issue.
Even on the last day on Thursday, the Speaker had to adjourn the House for an hour minutes after it met as the members surrounded his podium raising slogans in support of their conflicting stands. While the Telangana legislators wanted the Speaker to reject the notice given by chief minister for moving a resolution to reject the bill, their counterparts wanted immediate voting on the resolution.
The President had sent the bill to the state legislature on December12 for its opinion under Article 3 of the Constitution. It was supposed to be sent back by January 23. The bill was tabled on December 16 but could not be taken up for debate for several days due to protests by Seemandhra lawmakers, opposing state's bifurcation.
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The chief minister then sought three more weeks for sending the legislature's opinion, but the President extended the deadline by a week.
The chief minister, who is strongly opposed to bifurcation, last Friday submitted a notice to the speaker for moving a resolution to reject the bill and send it back to the President with a request not to refer it to Parliament.
The Congress on Thursday downplayed the rejection of the bill, saying it was on “predicted” lines and would not affect the move for carving out a new state.
Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh, however, made it clear that there was no plan to initiate disciplinary action against Reddy and other Congress leaders, who supported the resolution rejecting the AP Reorganisation Bill-2013.
“As far as the resolution is concerned, it does not affect the Constitutional provisions under Article 3 for the creation of a new state in the Indian Union...One should remember this the bill was sent (to Andhra Pradesh assembly) for comments and not for a vote,” the AICC general secretary in-charge for Andhra Pradesh said.
(With IANS inputs)