The winter session of Andhra Pradesh Legislature beginning tomorrow could be the final session of 'united' AP, if the Centre's plan of splitting the state into two fructifies.
The only probable agenda before the Legislature, particularly the state Assembly, is a debate on the draft AP Reorganisation Bill-2013 being referred by the President under Article 3 of the Constitution for "expressing views." The debate is likely to be acrimonious, given the frayed tempers and exasperation on both sides of the state's regional divide over the Centre's decision.
There will be no voting as such at the end of the debate on the draft Reorganisation Bill, but Legislature sources say there will nevertheless be a clear count of those who favoured or opposed it.
Though the 'head count' will not have any bearing on the Centre's decision to divide the state, Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy has openly challenged the central government to get the Bill passed in Parliament after the draft is "rejected" by the Assembly.
The main game plan of legislators from coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions is to see that the draft Bill is not returned to the Centre before the conclusion of Parliament's winter session, to ensure the bifurcation process is delayed.
Till date, the AP Assembly did not pass any resolution either seeking bifurcation of the state or opposing it. Such a resolution is not a constitutional requirement for bifurcation or creation of a state.
But the Chief Minister and Leader of Opposition N Chandrababu Naidu wrote separate letters to the President reminding him of the "tradition" set by the erstwhile NDA government while creating new states like Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Uttarakhand.
"Such tradition needs to be followed if AP is to be divided," they told the President.
The major cause for heartburn among Seemaandhra leaders and people is the "highhanded manner" in which the Centre has been going ahead with the bifurcation exercise by totally ignoring the concerns they raised.
Going by the numbers in the House, majority of the members are expected to vote against the bifurcation, be it on the resolution or the draft Bill. This, parties in Seemaandhra feel, will tie the Centre's hands down and prevent it from going ahead with the bifurcation process.
While AP Assembly has a strength of 294, 15 seats are vacant due to disqualification of Congress and TDP members. Of the balance, 119 MLAs belong to Telangana region and 160, including the Speaker, to Seemaandhra.
With Seemaandhra members supporting a united AP, logically they get to defeat any motion on bifurcation. Given this, the Chief Minister is said to be keen on getting a "resolution" moved by a private member (individual MLA) opposing the state division.
"Not that it will influence the Centre's decision, but it will ensure further debate on the issue and prolong the duration of the session. This way, we can avoid returning the draft Bill to the Centre before Parliament's winter session concludes," a minister close to the CM said.
The ruling Congress and main Opposition TDP are vertically divided on the bifurcation issue. The YSR Congress party is supporting a united state while the Telangana Rashtra Samiti, the BJP and CPI are in total favour of Telangana.
The 7-member Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, in principle, is for a united state. With its alternative proposal for creation of Rayala Telangana state not finding favour with the Centre, what stand does the party take during the debate on the draft Bill is awaited.
Numbers on the Telangana side will further deplete if MIM decides to oppose the division.
To avoid more embarrassment, the ruling party is said to be trying to enlist the support of at least 25 of its MLAs (from Seemaandhra) for the Bill by playing the 'loyalty' card.
AICC general secretary in charge of AP affairs, Digvijay Singh will camp in Hyderabad on December 12 and 13 on this mission, party sources said.
For the Congress, prestige is at stake and for the (party's) Seemaandhra legislators their political future.