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'Closed-door' Lok Sabha opens way for Telangana

A historic bill to carve out Telangana State out of Andhra Pradesh was on Tuesday passed by the Lok Sabha amid din and strong protests by members from Seemandhra region, including ministers.

The Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill, 2014 was adopted by voice vote along with several official amendments, with main opposition BJP coming on board.
Moving the bill for consideration and passage, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said the Centre will give special financial package to Seemandhra, residual part of Andhra Pradesh, to address the grievances of the people of that region.
A number of amendments moved by AIMIM member Asaduddin Owaisi and Trinamool Congress member Sougata Roy were negated.
Significantly, there was no live telecast by Lok Sabha TV for 90 minutes during clause by clause consideration of the bill before its passage.
Many members protested the way the bill was passed in the din, saying it was against the democratic norms and a “black day” in the country’s democracy.
The Bill was passed after a very brief discussion in which only Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj and minister Jaipal Reddy, a pro-Telangana leader from Andhra Pradesh, spoke.
Sushma reaction
The bill was introduced in the House on February 13 amid unprecedented scenes marked by fisticuffs, pepper spraying and breaking of House articles. 16 MPs belonging to Seemandhra region were suspended and they could not attend the House today.
Ms Swaraj, who spoke as per an understanding with the government, said her party supports the creation of Telangana but attacked the way it was being done.
“I and my party support the Bill...Telangana should be formed...We rise to prove our credibility and to see wishes of youth of Telangana are fulfilled,” Ms Swaraj said amid vociferous protest by members from CPI(M), Samajwadi Party and Trinamool Congress in the Well.
Charging the Congress with mishandling the issue of Telangana, she recalled that the BJP-led NDA had created three states during its tenure at the Centre without any disruption in Parliament or in any region.
Accusing Congress of delaying the process of Telangana formation, the Leader of the Opposition said though the ruling party had promised Telangana way back in May 2004, it brought it at the fag end of the 15th Lok Sabha.
“You have been in power in the last ten years, but you did nothing. You just sat over it”, she told Congress President Sonia Gandhi.
In the bill, which will now go to Rajya Sabha for approval, the government has promised to set up an expert committee within 45 days of formation of Telangana to give suggestions for a new capital of residuary Andhra Pradesh.
It envisages that Hyderabad will be common capital of Telangana and Seemandhra for 10 years which includes the existing area notified as Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation.
The Centre also tried to address the grievances of Seemandhra region by promising to take appropriate fiscal measures, including offer of tax incentives to the successor states, to promote industrialisation and economic growth in both states.
New Capital
The Central government will provide special financial support for creation of essential facilities in the new capital of the successor state of Andhra Pradesh, including the Raj Bhavan, High Court, government secretariat, Legislative Assembly, Legislative Council and such other essential infrastructure.
The Centre will set up an apex council for supervision of the Krishna and Godavari rivers management boards, amidst concerns that will face water problems if the state is divided.
The Union government will also facilitate creation of a new capital for the successor state of Andhra Pradesh, if considered necessary, by denotifying degraded forest land.
The Andhra Pradesh Governor will be the Governor for both the successor states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana and for the purpose of administration of the capital area, the Governor shall have special responsibility for the security of life and property of all those live in it.
Seeking to take credit for the passage of the bill, Swaraj said there is no competition over the issue but it was BJP which has been supporting the Telangana cause for long and party Chief Rajnath Singh had promised that the BJP will back the bill.
L K Advani in his Jan Chetna Yatra also had promised the bill, she said.
Ms Swaraj, who supported the Telangana cause, said, “After the passage of the Bill, you will start giving credit to Sonia Gandhi but don’t forget this ‘Chinnamma’ (little mother —— a reference to herself).”
S Jaipal Reddy, who spoke in support of Telangana, said the demand for separate Telangana was raised recurrently for last 60 years.
“I don’t think any demand has been raised for such a long period with such an intense feeling,” Mr Reddy said.
Expressing “surprise and pain” over the scenes of disorder in the House at this “extremely joyous occasion”, Mr Reddy said UPA had promised Telangana in 2004 and the issue had its reflection in the President’s address that year.
He wondered whether those in the Andhra were “sleeping like Kumbhakarna” all these years.

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