Amid strong protests from Seemandhra MPs and an unprecedented television blackout of the proceedings, the Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed the historic Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill-2014 to form a separate State of Telangana by voice vote.
Moving the bill for consideration and passage along with 32 official amendments, Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said, “It has not been an easy decision. The Centre had invited and received suggestions from the entire cross-section of Andhra Pradesh. Every suggestion had been evaluated and dealt with appropriately when the bill was being prepared.” As Shinde was reading his speech, Seemandhra MPs swarmed the well shouting slogans against bifurcation of the State.
A two-tier security ring of eight Congress MPs was thrown around Congress president Sonia Gandhi and the Home Minister to prevent any unsavoury incident. Amid the din, Shinde hurriedly moved the bill which was passed after a brief discussion involving Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj and Union Minister Jaipal Reddy. Sushma said her party supported the bill but questioned the way it was introduced at the fag end of the UPA tenure and accused the government of failing to control even its Ministers.
“I and my party support the bill. We will also vote for the bill. Telangana should be created and we rise to prove our credibility and to see the wishes of the youth of Telangana are fulfilled. Our party president Rajnath Singh and senior leader LK Advani had supported this bill, we are supporting the bill despite opposition demand against it,” she said amid sloganeering by Seemandhra MPs and cheering by TRS MPs.
Sushma raised the issue of granting special powers to the Governor which requires a Constitutional amendment and offered support for it. She also assured the people of Seemandhra that if BJP comes to power, it will ensure justice to the region.
She quoted a line in Telugu, “Telangana Kosam, Balidanam Vaddhu, Telangana Chuddaniki, bratakali, bratakali (Don’t commit suicide for Telangana, Stay alive to see Telangana) that she had told the youth of Telangana at the height of the agitation. Claiming credit for the creation of Telangana, she quipped, “If you remember Sonia Amma, then also remember this Chinnama( Little mother).”
However, this did not go down well with an emotional Jaipal Reddy, who claimed that credit goes only to Congress president Sonia Gandhi. Reddy, who was guarded by Congress MP Mahabal Mishra to prevent disruption by agitating Seemandhra and CPI(M) members, said the demand was hanging fire for the last 60 years but “this wonderful achievement today has been made possible because of the resolve and commitment of one person, one lady, that is, Mrs. Sonia Gandhi.”
Around 30 amendments moved by MIM MP Asaduddin Owaisi and Trinamool Congress MP Sougata Roy were negated. A fuming Owaisi demanded that his amendments related to power and making Urdu the second language of Telangana be accepted.
Owaisi also opposed the provision which provides powers to the Governor. Sougato Roy objected head counting by the Speaker saying, “We are not sheep and there should be proper division of votes.” His demand was over-ruled by Speaker Meira Kumar.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath said the bill will be taken up in the Rajya Sabha immediately. Secretary General of the Upper House is expected to report on the bill around 12 noon today. Thereafter, the bill with 32 official amendments as passed by the LS will have to be readied for circulation among the members. If the govt manages to include the amendments, it will be introduced today. If not, it will be tomorrow.