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Members from the Telangana region, who stoutly opposed the introduction of the resolution in the assembly for the past four days, did not participate in the vote as they are outnumbered by their counterparts from coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema. Photo: Reuters
Members from the Telangana region, who stoutly opposed the introduction of the resolution in the assembly for the past four days, did not participate in the vote as they are outnumbered by their counterparts from coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema. Photo: Reuters

Andhra Pradesh assembly rejects Telangana Bill

Members from Telangana abstain as they were outnumbered by counterparts from Seemandhra

Hyderabad: Both Houses of the Andhra Pradesh legislature on Thursday rejected the central government’s proposal to bifurcate the state of 84 million people by granting statehood to the Telangana region, embarrassing the ruling Congress party.

Assembly speaker Nadendla Manohar introduced a resolution moved by chief minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy to reject the Bill for the creation of Telangana. The resolution was in defiance of the Congress party’s central leadership, which favours the creation of Telangana state.

Members from Telangana, who have stoutly tried to oppose the introduction of chief minister’s resolution in the assembly for the past four days, abstained as they were outnumbered by their counterparts from coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema.

The House of 294 has 119 members from Telangana region and 175 legislators from coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema, jointly called Seemandhra.

As soon as the voice vote was over, Manohar announced that a majority of the members in the House rejected the draft version of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill 2013. Immediately thereafter, as members from Seemandhra stood guard in the middle of the House to prevent their Telangana counterparts from disrupting proceedings, the speaker adjourned the House indefinitely.

The entire process lasted around 90 seconds.

The Andhra Pradesh Legislative Council, the upper House of the state’s legislature, followed suit by rejecting the Bill in a voice vote. House chairman A. Chakrapani adjourned the council indefinitely.

“What happened in the assembly is no surprise because the majority does not support the Bill in this form," Jayaprakash Narayan, president of Lok Satta Party, said. “For days now, a resolution was introduced in the assembly. For days now, everything was stalled. The speaker took a voice vote. I believe the speaker has been very patient.".

Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill, 2013, seeks to create a new state Telangana, encompassing 10 districts with Hyderabad as the joint capital for both the Telugu-speaking states for a 10-year period. Seemandhra politicians cutting across party lines have opposed the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh.

“It is of course an embarrassment for the Congress party. However, one has to understand that this is not an overnight development and it has been brewing for a long time in the assembly now," N. Bhaskara Rao, a New Delhi-based political analyst, said.

“The Congress party should have done something about it at an early stage. Both the central government and the party’s leadership are equally responsible for this embarrassing situation," he said.

The Bill was introduced in both the Houses of the legislature on 16 December. While 86 members spoke on the assembly floor, the remaining members submitted their views in writing owing to the paucity of time. The House was disrupted and adjourned multiple times during the 23 days it was in session.

A total of 9,072 views, including proposed amendments to the draft Bill, will be considered as part of official record. “These official records will be submitted to Hon’ble president of India as views of the house," speaker Manohar said.

“It is an operation success, but the patient died," K. Nageshwar, an independent member of the legislative council, said. “I think the rejection has no meaning. If you want to reject there should be voting on the Bill. The assembly passed a resolution rejecting the Bill."

The move by the state legislature might not stall it from being presented in both the houses of the Parliament, where, if passed, it could make India’s 29th state a reality. Congress party leaders have on multiple occasions earlier maintained that the views of the House are not binding on the union government.

“Article 3 is very clear. What is required is consultation and view of the assembly, not its consent," Telangana Rashtra Samithi leader K.T. Rama Rao said. “We are confident of the Parliament passing the Bill with two-thirds majority."

The Bill now has to pass through the offices of the President, Union cabinet and the two Houses of the Parliament.

“The constitutional requirement of getting comments from the Andhra Pradesh assembly has been fulfilled," Digvijaya Singh, who oversees Congress party’s affairs in Andhra Pradesh, said in New Delhi. “Now it is for the Government of India to introduce the Bill in the Parliament after the cabinet goes through the recommendations, suggestions, given by the honourable members of the Andhra Pradesh assembly," he said in comments aired on regional news channel, NTV.

Seemandhra parliamentarians, meanwhile, are gearing up to keep the Bill in abeyance in the national capital. “There is no question of the Bill being passed," said Congress MP Lagadapati Rajagopal. “We have enough ammunition to ensure the state is united." He did not elaborate.

Those in favour of keeping Andhra Pradesh united argue that it could take time for the president and union cabinet to study the 9,072 amendments. “It is a clear cut rejection of the Bill. The president will have to go through more than 9,000 amendments and apply his mind," Rajagopal said.

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