Amid negotiations with the BJP and Congress president Sonia Gandhi's demand for a special status for Seemandhra, the UPA government will try to push the Telangana bill in Rajya Sabha with just a day to go for this Parliament session to end.
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 spoke to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and demanded special status for Seemandhra for five years after the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh.
There may be several more such attempts to break the deadlock in the House over the contentious bill with the UPA government expected to address some major concerns of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) related to Seemandhra.
The cabinet is now expected to take a call on Gandhi’s demand on Thursday that could pave the way for the bill’s passage in Rajya Sabha.
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.
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.
BJP moves to extract its pound of flesh
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 Jairam Ramesh has conveyed to the BJP that he will get back to them with a list of sops the government may announce for Seemandhra.
Based on this, the opposition is expected to firm up its stand by Thursday morning.
As a consensus could not be reached, the bill was dropped for the day on Wednesday, and deputy chairman PJ Kurien adjourned Rajya Sabha shortly after 5pm.
Parliamentary affairs minister Kamal Nath was seen holding parleys with leaders from the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party on the floor of the House.
Speculations over the bill being tabled in Rajya Sabha continued through the day, and a supplementary list of business circulated after lunch also listed the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill for consideration and passing.
Protests against Telangana took an ugly turn in Rajya Sabha, as Telugu Desam Party MP, CM Ramesh, tried to snatch papers from the secretary general. The MP apologised to the house later.
Ramesh and his colleague YS Chowdhary and KVP Ramachandra Rao of the Congress stood near the chairman's podium with posters demanding "United Andhra Praesh" and "Save Andhra Pradesh", the House passed four bills in a row, after an agreement among parties.
While the bill for Telangana was expected next, the House was suddenly adjourned for half an hour around 4.30pm.
When the House met again at 5pm, Kurien said passing four bills was enough work for a day and adjourned the House till Thursday.
(With IANS inputs)