Hectic parleys as Lok Sabha to discuss Telangana bill today
Amid great hype and tension, the bill for creating a Telangana state will be taken up for discussion in the Lok Sabha today
New Delhi: The bill for creating a Telangana state will be taken up for discussion in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday even as the Congress assured its leaders from Seemandhra of justice and the BJP said it was in favour of separate state but concerns of the region should be addressed.
YSR Congress chief, Jagan Mohan Reddy sits during a protest against the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, in New Delhi on February 17, 2104. Pic: AFP
In Hyderabad, sources closes to Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy said he will submit his resignation once the debate begins in Lok Sabha on Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill 2013.
Congress state chief Botsa Satyanarayana meanwhile appealed to him and chiefs of the TDP and YSR Congress to accompany him to Delhi for making last-ditch effort to stall the state's division.
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Monday assured central ministers and party MPs from Seemandhra that justice would be done to their region while carving out separate Telangana state.
Union Minister of State for Finance J.D. Seelam told reporters after a meeting with Gandhi that they submitted their demands include making Hyderabad a union territory for a specific period, sharing of revenue of Hyderabad between Telangana and Seemandhra and special packages for north coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions, and hoped these would be considered.
Earlier Monday, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath told reporters outside the parliament house complex that the bill will be taken up Tuesday even as protests were held in national capital by groups and parties opposed to bifurcation of the state
"The Telangana bill will come up for discussion in the Lok Sabha Feb 18," he said, adding those who want to oppose can do so "in a parliamentary manner".
The minister said Congress president Sonia Gandhi is likely to speak on the issue Tuesday. The Congress has issued a three-line whip to its members to be present in the house on all days of the week.
The Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha last Thursday amid ruckus and violent protests, which saw a member opposed to the proposed Telangana state (Lagadapati Rajagopal) using pepper spray, leaving several MPs, Speaker Meira Kumar and dozens of journalists choking and coughing.
Several opposition parties, including the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Trinamool Congress, the Biju Janata Dal, the Left and the Samajwadi Party, which extends outside support to the government, told the speaker that the bill was not formally introduced in the house and should be introduced again.
Senior BJP leader L.K. Advani told reporters that his party was in favour of Telangana but Seemandhra's concerns should be addressed.
"We are in favour of Telangana but cannot disregard the problems that will arise for Seemandhra," he said.
Sources said union ministers from the Seemandhra region K.S. Rao, M.M. Pallam Raju and D. Purandeshwari met Advani and sought his party's support for a financial package for the region after the state is bifurcated as planned.
The Congress ministers were accompanied by BJP leader M. Venkaiah Naidu.
The meeting, which lasted nearly 25 minutes, was held at Advani's residence.The sources said Advani later briefed Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, the leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha, and Rajya Sabha respectively, on the demands raised by the Andhra ministers.
Sources said Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde and Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh also met Advani, Sushma Swaraj and Jaitley over the Telangana bill.
YSR Congress party and Andhra Pradesh Non-Gazetted Officers (APNGOs) Association Monday staged separate sit-ins in the national capital to oppose proposed bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh.
YSR Congress chief Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy led the sit-in at Jantar Mantar. Party leaders and large number of activists participated in the protest to demand that the state should not be divided.
Speaking on the occasion, Jagan, as the MP from Kadapa is popular among his supporters, hit out at the Congress, saying it was splitting the state for electoral gains and asked all political parties to oppose Telangana bill.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court Monday once again rejected, as "premature", pleas seeking to stall the formation of Telengana through the passage of the bill to bifurcate Andhra Pradesh.