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Ansari's objections on Telangana Bill egg on Congress' face

Wednesday, 12 February 2014 - 6:00am IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: DNA

Even as the ruling Congress on Tuesday showed firm commitment to go ahead with bifurcating the state of Andhra Pradesh by expelling its six anti-Telangana MPs, the technical objections by Rajya Sabha chairman Hamid Ansari — that the Bill cannot be introduced in the Upper House — has left egg on the face of Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath. The Bill which was supposed to be introduced in Rajya Sabha on Tuesday was deferred following objections by the secretariat — that it has financial implications and so must be introduced and passed in the Lok Sabha first.

In order to ensure its smooth passage now in Lok Sabha, the party, apparently sent a strong message to its MPs, including Andhra Pradesh chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy, to fall in line. Those summarily expelled with immediate effect are: R Sambasiva Rao, Sabbam Hari, V Arun Kumar, A Saiprathap, L Rajagopal and GV Harshakumar. There are a score of other Congress MPs who too are disrupting the proceedings to protest against the creation of Telangana. Sources in the parliamentary affairs ministry said Speaker Meira Kumar may suspend them now for the rest of the session to allow smooth passage of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill.

The government, however, faced a major embarrassment on Tuesday, when it was forced to defer the Bill, originally listed to be placed before the Rajya Sabha. Late on Monday night, Chairman Hamid Ansari summoned Kamal Nath and raised technical objections on its financial implications. The Bill has now been tentatively slated for introduction in the Lok Sabha on Thursday. While party MPs were gunning for Kamal Nath and Law Minister Kapil Sibal for not advising the government on the financial nature of the bill, insiders in the government said it was actually Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, who forcefully argued for the Bill to be introduced in Rajya Sabha at the Cabinet meeting last Friday.

Sibal, in his presentation to the Cabinet, had pressed that the Bill has financial implications and hence it can be taken up only in the Lok Sabha. He put forth the precedent of the Prasar Bharti and other bills that were disallowed by the Rajya Sabha until they come through the Lok Sabha, but, sources said he was overruled by Chidambaram.

The prime minister went by Chidambaram's advice that a Bill brought in the Rajya Sabha will not lapse and hence the Congress can take credit of fulfilling the promise to create Telangana even if the Bill is not passed due to the daily pandemonium in the House. Also, there are fewer anti-Telangana MPs in the Upper House than in the Lok Sabha. Kamal Nath reiterated on Tuesday that there are still eight sittings of Parliament before the session ends on February 21, which is enough time to pass the Telangana Bill.

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