Parliament on Thursday cleared the formation of Telangana, India’s 29th state, with Rajya Sabha passing the Andhra Pradesh State Re-organisation Bill amid chaos. Lok Sabha had already given its nod on Tuesday, and the legislation will now be quickly forwarded to the President for his assent, official sources said.
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Sweetening the deal for the Seemandhra region, which has vociferously protested the state’s bifurcation, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced a mega financial package for it. His six-point assurance includes special category status for five years that will provide easy funds for infrastructure building, a tax holiday to woo industries, a development scheme for backward areas and support to the Pollavaram irrigation project.
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He added that there would be enough time between the date of notification and actual day of state formation to ensure smooth transition of personnel and resources. He also promised that the resource gap for Seemandhra (comprising coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema) in its first year would be compensated in the regular union Budget for 2014-15.
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After a hard bargain, the UPA and the BJP reached an understanding on Thursday whereby the opposition would not insist on further amending the Telangana bill passed by Lok Sabha. In a reciprocal gesture, the PM would address the concerns of members from Seemandhra. Any fresh amendment would have brought the legislation back to Lok Sabha and landed the government in a tight spot with just a day to go for the current winter session to end.
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“The good cause of creating a new state got a bad name due to the government’s handling of the issue,” said leader of the opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley. He criticized the UPA for waiting till the very last minute to fulfill the demands of Seemandhra and raised questions about giving the governor sweeping powers without bringing in a constitutional amendment.
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While there was barely any debate on the matter in Lok Sabha, the upper House saw a lengthy discussion even as Trinamool Congress and Telugu Desam Party members tried to create a ruckus by tearing paper and throwing the pieces at the PM during his intervention. The AIADMK walked out.
Full coverage: The Telangana tangle