In a major embarrassment to the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre, the Andhra Pradesh legislature on Thursday rejected by voice vote the AP reorganization Bill, 2013 referred to it by president Pranab Mukherjee for opinion.
However, this poses no hurdles to the bifurcation of the state as the Bill, which seeks to create a separate state of Telangana, was referred to the legislature by the president under Article 3 of the Constitution for eliciting its views and it is not incumbent upon the Centre to go by the opinion of the legislature.
There was pandemonium in both Houses of the legislature — the assembly and the council — when the bill was put to vote on Thursday. The assembly resembled a battle field as MLAs from Seemandhra formed a human wall around the speaker’s podium to thwart any attempt by Telangana MLAs to disrupt and stall the proceedings. One TRS MLA even climbed atop the table of the legislative secretary and tried to jump at speaker, but was stopped by marshals and dragged down.
Chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy and his supporters walked out of the assembly hall jubilantly raising the slogan Jai Samaikyandhra after the House rejected the Bill. After a marathon debate that went on for 50 days, Speaker Manohar announced that the debate on the AP Reorganization Bill-2013 was complete and moved the ‘government resolution ‘ of the chief minister for rejecting the T Bill and sending it back to president for voice vote. “So far, 86 MLAs have spoken and nearly 9,074 amendment have been suggested, he said adding that the process of opinion gathering exercise on the Bill as advised by the President was complete. After announcing that the government resolution was passed, he adjourned the House sine die.
A similar resolution was moved by endowment minister C Ramachandraiah in the legislative council. Now, the action shifts to Delhi. TRS chief K Chandrasekhar Rao said nothing will stop the formation of Telangana — not even the state legislature rejecting the bill. “I have been informed of the dates on which the Telagnana bill will be passed in parliament,” he said adding that he would camp in Delhi to drum up support for the Bill. “I will come back to Hyderabad in Telagnana state,” he declared. On the other hand, Union ministers and MPs from Seemandhra region said they would take their protest to Delhi. Congress MPs from the region Undavalli Arun Kumar and Lagadapati Rajagopal said they would move a no-confidence motion against the UPA government to stall the Lok Sabha from taking up the Telengana Bill. NGOs and state government employees from Seemandhra fighting to keep the state united also plan to take their battle to Delhi during the parliament session.
“There will be water wars and power wars between both the regions (if the state is bifurcated),” Kiran Kumar Reddy said during his seven hour-long speech in the assembly. Although the legislature rejecting the bill does not place any technical problem in the bifurcation of the state, there is a political hitch and moral impact on the Congress party in pushing for formation of Telangana state.
“Both the Samajwadi Party and the BJP are likely to pose riders demanding more amendments and changes in the Bill,” said a leader from the Seemandhra region.
Congress secretary Digvijay Singh said the move will have no impact on the bifurcation process. “The AP House has done its job of opinion gathering. The vote on the CM’s resolution will have no impact on the AP reorganization Bill. We will now take the process forward in GoM and Parliament and ensure formation of Telangana as scheduled,” he said in Delhi.