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Congress develops cold feet on Telangana

Saturday, 15 February 2014 - 6:00am IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: DNA
The government may now focus on getting vote-on-account passed next week and not push for the controversial Bill
  • Telangana Congress supporters burn the effigy of suspended MP from Vijaywada Rajagopal on Friday. PTI

The ruling UPA seems to have developed cold feet now on debating the Telangana Bill and push for its passage in the parliament. The ruling alliance is, however, looking for excuses and plans to shift the blame to the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Government says BJP leaders have washed its hands, and it is not willing to support the proposed legislation.

Even though Congress had earlier exuded confidence that the suspension of 17 MPs from Seemandhra region will ensure smooth passage of the Bill, with the ruckus and emotions running high, the party has changed its strategy.

A senior Congress party leader and Union minister told dna that government is now focused on getting the vote-on-account passed next week. He said government will give one more push to the Telangana Bill, but apprehend the opposition may not now support as it had promised earlier.

Soon after the Lok Sabha was adjourned after the Thursday ruckus, BJP leaders LK Advani and Sushma Swaraj told UPA leaders in speaker Meira Kumar's chamber that the bill was not formally introduced.

Insiders said there were heated arguments with the BJP leaders arguing that due procedures had not been followed. Though the speaker has ruled that the Bill stands introduced, the fresh confrontation between the opposition party and the ruling alliance has cast a shadow on the future of the legislation.

As of now, the Telangana Bill is expected to be listed for discussion and passage on Tuesday as Lok Sabha will take up vote-on-account on Monday. Congress leaders' predicament is that party president Sonia Gandhi having gone thus far wants the Bill to be passed even through a voice vote. "It is difficult to predict if the Bill will be passed or not. There is a fresh development every day. We still don't know the mind of BJP leaders," a senior Cabinet minister said.

The BJP maintains the bill was not introduced. Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj also wanted to know why the bill had not been mentioned in the list of business. She accused Congress of playing games because of the upcoming general election. She asked as to why the Congress has not taken action against Andhra Pradesh chief minister Kiran Kumar, who was actually behind the MPs who created ruckus.

The BJP has officially declared that it is committed to the formation of Telangana and will support the Bill provided there is order in parliament and the Bill made substantial provisions for the Seemaandhra region.
It had also said it would not support the suspension of anti-Telangana MPs. Other parties who also believe the Bill was not introduced are Samajwadi Party (SP), Biju Janata Dal (BJD), CPI and Trinamool Congress.

Reports also suggest that BJP's local unit in Telangana region was working overtime to convince its central leadership to support its passage. They are even planning to approach Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi to issue a statement, clarifying remarks of Sushma

Swaraj and LK Advani. The BJP is pinning hopes to win at least three seats in Telangana region.


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