A detailed discussion on the draft AP Re-organisation Bill 2013 continued in the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly here on Friday, with members from Telangana welcoming and those from coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema opposing it.
AP Legislative Affairs Minister S Sailajanath made a forceful pitch against the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh.
"I totally oppose the draft Bill which is against the spirit of federalism and also against the spirit of those who sacrificed their lives for the unity of the Telugu people," Sailajanath said, adding that the draft Bill has hurt the self-respect of the Telugu people, he said.
He recalled that people from coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema came to Hyderabad only at the request of people from the Telangana region.
"We sacrificed Kurnool as our capital only to make Hyderabad the capital of the Telugu state. We are not migrants but Telugu people," he said.
If anybody had betrayed the people of Telangana with false promises, it is the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS), the minister said, adding that the TRS had promised lakhs of jobs to the youth if a new state was formed after bifurcation.
"How is that possible?" Sailajanath asked and alleged that the agitation for a separate Telangana state was started only for the sake of political power.
"One leader started this after he did not become a minister. First, they wanted a separate state in the name of development, but when the claim of under-development proved hollow, they changed the slogan to self-rule," Sailajanath said.
TRS legislators took exception to the minister's remarks and rushed into the well of the house in protest.
CPM legislator Julakanti Ranga Reddy blamed the Congress for the current imbroglio in the state.
"AP has lost out on everything in the last few years because of the uncertainty over the statehood issue. The demand for a separate state cropped up only because of the failure of successive rulers of the state," he said, accusing the Congress of speaking in many voices on the issue.
"While the Delhi Congress leaders speak one thing, the state leaders speak something else and leave the people totally confused," Ranga Reddy said.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy intervened to say the people were no longer guided by what political parties say and they themselves think on regional lines due to which "we have to respect their wishes".
However, the AP CM complimented the CPM saying that it was the only party that had a consistent stand on the statehood issue.
Telugu Desam Party (TDP) senior MLA Ravula Chandrasekhar Reddy also spoke.
Earlier, YSR Congress MLAs staged a walkout from the assembly after their demand for voting on the draft Bill was rejected.
The YSRC action immediately drew flak from all parties which alleged that the former is running away from the debate on the draft Bill.
The day began with YSR Congress members trooping into the well of the house, demanding a vote on the draft Bill ahead of the debate, which led to adjournment of proceedings for half an hour.
When the house reassembled, YSR Congress floor leader Y S Vijaya announced that they were walking out to protest against the refusal to take up voting on the draft Bill.
She alleged that the ruling Congress and the principal opposition TDP were colluding to bifurcate Andhra Pradesh.
This was sharply rebutted by AP Finance Minister Anam Ramanarayana Reddy and TDP MLA Payyavula Keshav who accused the YSR Congress of "running away from the debate".
"Instead of taking part in the debate and expressing their views on the bifurcation issue, the YSR Congress is running away from the house. It only shows that the party lacks sincerity," Anam alleged.
TDP's Keshav too castigated the YSR Congress, saying that the party spoke one thing in public domain, but shied away from speaking the same in the assembly.
Refuting Vijaya's allegation that the TDP is hand-in-glove with the Congress on the bifurcation issue, Keshav recalled that it was the late Y S Rajasekhara Reddy who sowed the seeds of the separate statehood for Telangana movement.
"It was YSR who announced on the floor of the house that the Congress was not against the formation of Telangana state," Keshav said.
Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) MLA K T Rama Rao endorsed Keshav's statement and said it was indeed YSR who had stated that there was no objection to create a Telangana state.
Sailajanath, however, pointed out that YSR only favoured constitution of a second States Re-organisation Commission to look into the demand for the creation of a separate Telangana state.
"That's the policy of the Congress party," he said and accused the TRS of hoodwinking people of Telangana region.
This led to angry protests by TRS members who rushed into the well of the house and demanded an apology from Sailajanath, as well as withdrawal of his remarks.
The issue subsided only after Speaker Nadendla Manohar pacified TRS MLAs and said that it was not proper for the Minister to make such remarks.
TRS MLA K T Rama Rao recalled that both YSR and current AP Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy had promised to abide by the Congress high command's decision on the separate statehood issue.
Reacting to this, the Kiran agreed that he had made such a statement. "But the decision taken by the Congress (to bifurcate the state) lacks any rationale. Hence I opposed it. I will explain in detail why I oppose bifurcation during the course of the debate," he said.
Later, the debate on the draft Bill continued.