Pranab Sends T Bill to State, Gives 40 Days for Debate
By Express News Service | Published: 12th December 2013 07:36 AM |
The stage is set for a final showdown between Telangana and Seemandhra leaders in the State Assembly. President Pranab Mukherjee, sources said, had sent the draft AP Reorganisation Bill-2013 to Chief Secretary PK Mohanty late Wednesday on the eve of the Assembly session. The Chief Secretary is likely to forward the draft bill to the Assembly Speaker and Legislative Council Chairman Thursday morning. The President is said to have given the Assembly 40 days to express its opinion.
The development came after the Business Advisory Committee (BAC) of the State Assembly met under the leadership of Speaker N Manohar in the evening and decided to have a brief seven-day session. Now with the President referring the bill to the State, it is certain that the BAC will meet again and draw up a new schedule.
The Congress high command is leaving no stone unturned to ensure a smooth debate on the bill in the Assembly. AICC State affairs incharge Digvijaya Singh said in Delhi he would be in Hyderabad Thursday and Friday. He is likely to put a leash on the party’s Seemandhra MLAs and preempt any moves intended to stall discussion.
However, if Wednesday’s BAC meeting is anything to go by, the session is most likely going to be stormy. The Kiran government initially proposed to limit the session to just a couple of days but following opposition from T lawmakers, including Dy CM Damodara Rajanarasimha and Legislative Affairs Minister D Sridhar Babu, it agreed to a seven-day affair. The YSRC represented by YS Vijayalakshmi insisted that a Samaikyandhra resolution be adopted in the session.
With the battle lines clearly drawn, one has to wait and see how the discussion on T bill unfolds. For the Congress, though, the Assembly is not the only headache. It is on the backfoot in Parliament with the BJP and the Left cornering it on the ‘sham’ JPC report on 2G scam and the no-trust notice served by six of its own Seemandhra MPs. Evidently exasperated by the Seemandhra MPs, the Congress warned them directly on Wednesday. If Digvijaya Singh said disciplinary action would be taken against them as per Parliamentary guidelines, party spokesman PC Chacko said they will be suspended. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath said the government had the numbers and asserted that elections would be held in May as per schedule.
But the bigger problem for the UPA government seems to be the BJP-led opposition in Parliament to the JPC report. No business could be transacted in both Houses Wednesday. The fate of the remaining Winter session seems uncertain as the BJP has decided not to bail out the government on any key legislation like the Insurance Bill, since a section within the party feels it has been short-changed on the JPC report. “The way the Congress bulldozed the JPC report in both the Houses, our members are miffed. Why should we bail out the lame duck government?” a senior BJP MP said.
As all the sides stuck to their stand, there were talks that the government held out a threat to adjourn the House sine die on Friday. However, Kamal Nath said the House will function through the session. In the evening, senior BJP leaders went into a huddle to discuss their strategy.
Emerging from the meeting at L K Advani’s house, Deputy Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Ravi Shankar Prasad, said, “We discussed the issues at length. We’re surprised that when discussions were going on for extending the Winter session, there is a sudden talk of cutting it short. We have decided that the session should go on.” The BJP also charged the government with not being serious in running the house, as most of the disruptions were done by parties supporting the Congress.
Interestingly, Advani, while talking about the no-trust notice, said, “We have not finally decided. TDP members came to us...we were inclined at first when we saw the text of the motion. It did not give arguments. It was a single line motion. We were inclined to support it. But on second thoughts, we reconsidered as our party also suggested (the formation of Telangana), we thought it needs a re-look.”
Another party MP said, “We will see when the no-confidence motion is submitted. If it talks about Telangana, the BJP cannot be seen to be supporting it as we are in favour of Telangana.