VIJAYAWADA: Former Congress MP Undavalli Arun Kumar on Friday filed an urgent hearing petition in the Supreme Court on the legality of bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh and the passage of the AP Reorganisation Act, 2014 in Parliament.Speaking to the media in Rajahmundry, he said the petition was filed after seeking permission to file additional documents.
This comes exactly eight years after the infamous pepper spray episode in Parliament. “The documents are about speeches of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah in Parliament stating that AP was bifurcated in an unjust manner behind closed doors of Parliament without any discussion,” he informed.
He found fault with lack of response from the previous regime headed by N Chandrababu Naidu and the present YS Jagan Mohan Reddy government to initiate a debate on the State bifurcation issue in Parliament. He felt that now it is another opportunity for Jagan to file an affidavit demanding justice for AP. “It is time for Parliament to apologise to AP for the manner in which the State was bifurcated on February 18 eight years ago,” he opined.
He reminded that Home Minister Amit Shah himself questioned the Congress as to how they passed the bifurcation bill when it was rejected by the AP State Assembly with two thirds majority. He also cited the remarks of Prime Minister Narendra Modi that out of political interests, seeds of poison were sown during bifurcation and today those seeds germinated and grew into poisonous trees, resulting in both AP and Telangana being at loggerheads on several issues.
Undavalli wanted to know why Jagan and others in the State are hesitating to take up the issue in Parliament and the Supreme Court, when the Prime Minister and the Home Minister clearly stated that the AP bifurcation happened in an unjustified manner.
The former MP recounted that he was outside Parliament on that fateful day as he was suspended along with others and the doors of Parliament were closed for the first time in its history. Recollecting the happenings, he said BJP leader LK Advani’s aversion to bifurcation was clearly evident in Congressman Jaipal Reddy’s speech -- “When I heard the decent voice of Advaniji, an elder statesman of not only BJP, but the country, I was shocked”. All opposition parties were opposed to the bill, which was clearly evident from what BJP Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj said -- “In spite of opposition from the opposition parties, we stand to support the bill for Telangana children.”
Showing a book he published on parliamentary proceedings of February 18, 2014, Undavalli said he got the Parliament attendance register on that day, which clearly showed 30 BJP MPs were absent, so were several Congress MPs. “MPs of several parties staged a walkout protesting against the bill in both the Houses. If such was the case, how had the bill passed? Those outside the House did not know what was happening and those inside too were not aware of what occurred,” he recounted.
Taking serious exception to Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao lashing out at the BJP for raising the AP bifurcation issue in Parliament, Undavalli sought to know why he is objecting to it, when it is a ‘universal truth’ that injustice was done to AP.
“No one is speaking about Telangana or reunion. The issue here is injustice done to AP due to bifurcation in the most unscientific manner. KCR, who has adopted an anti-BJP stance, should instead ask Modi and others as to what they are doing now as they are in power if they felt the previous Congress regime did injustice to AP. Instead, TRS people would glare at Andhra MPs whenever they take up the bifurcation issue.”
Undavalli revealed that he consulted former Chief Justice of India MN Venkatachaliah in Bengaluru before filing the petition in the Supreme Court. The former CJI suggested that the proceedings in the SC be telecast live as it will be one of the important cases, so people will understand what the Constitution is. “I have attended the Supreme Court 22 times in the past eight years regarding the case. Others too should take initiative now and not remain silent,” he asserted.
On provision of Special Category Status to AP, the former MP said what the Centre has been claiming is all lies which is evident from the RTI answer provided by Niti Aayog. As per the Union Cabinet decision in 2014, the Polavaram project cost should be borne by the Centre irrespective of the cost escalation. In fact, Niti Aayog had prepared an 18-page report on development support to successor State of AP on December 1, 2015 after studying the AP Reorganisation Act. However, when Congress Rajya Sabha member KVP Ramachandra Rao sought a copy of it he was told that only one copy was made and the same was submitted to the Prime Minister, he recalled.
Undavalli further said there are several people like Ramesh Chandra Varma from Amalapuram, who have been seeking information on SCS and the APRA from the Centre. Varma himself have got 900 RTI replies, which can be used to fight for justice to AP, he felt. He advised Jagan to set up a special cell to invite public opinion online on bifurcation of AP by creating an email Id.