Telangana was all set to become 29th state of the Union with Parliament tonight approving a historic bill to carve it out of Andhra Pradesh amid vociferous protests by members from Seemandhra region as also from Trinamool Congress and Shiv Sena.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi's request to the Prime Minister to give a special category status to Seemandhra for five years seems to have apparently clinched the issue and BJP came on board.
A protective cordon was thrown around Singh as well as Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde by Congress members as members from Seemandhra region as also those from TMC and Shiv Sena stormed the Well with TMC members even tearing papers and throwing them on the floor.
CPI-M members walked out in protest.
The House looked like a virtual battle-ground during the five-hour proceedings, which saw seven adjournments as members resorted to slogan shouting and tore papers describing the bill passed by the Lok Sabha on Tuesday as illegal.
Amidst the half a dozen 15-minute adjournments in Rajya Sabha before the House took up the Telangana bill, the UPA and BJP did a backstage jig to ensure its passage.
Till Wednesday night, the BJP was insisting on amendments to address concerns of the Seemandhra and a constitutional amendment on powers of a common governor to be custodian of law and order. This was a day after it had supported passage of the bill on creation of Telangana amidst a din in Lok Sabha.
But, on Thursday, the BJP softened its stand, worried that it would have to take the blame if there was a last minute hurdle in bill’s passage in case of an amendment being returned to Lok Sabha at the end of the session. The budget session of Parliament ends on Friday, the day 16 suspended Seemandhra MPS return to Lok Sabha. Even if one of its amendments was voted in Rajya Sabha, it would have to go back to the Lower House for its approval.
Union ministers Sushilkumar Shinde, Jairam Ramesh and Kamal Nath had a meeting with BJP leaders LK Advani, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and M Venkaiah Naidu. The government side conveyed that it was difficult for it to accept its demand for amendments. The BJP wanted a specific figure to be mentioned in the Seemandhra package, but the government rejected this too. Weighing its options, the BJP finally agreed not to persist with amendments if Naidu could speak in Rajya Sabha addressing concerns of Seemandhra and the Prime Minister intervened to assure a package for the region which was opposed to the state’s bifurcation.
After frequent adjournments in Rajya Sabha through the day, Naidu finally opened the debate in the evening appealing for calm as he spoke amid the din of sloganeering, seeking a package for Seemandhra in the wake of Telangana’s formation. Later, the Prime Minister, speaking on the floor of the House, announced a special package for Seemandhra.
A party leader said it was never the BJP’s intention to block the bill but while it backed creation of Telangana, it wanted justice for Seemandhra.
On Wednesday, a series of backroom negotiations between the government, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at one point, ended in a stalemate with the BJP sticking to its demand for the amendments. The bill could not be taken up in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.
BJP strategists are hoping that the party would gain politically in the Lok Sabha elections from its stance in Parliament once the heat over Telangana dies down and parties get into poll mode.
The Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill, 2014 was adopted in Lok Sabha by voice vote along with several official amendments, with main opposition BJP coming on board.
1948: Indian Army annexes princely state of Hyderabad, which comprised different regions including Telangana.
1950: Telangana became Hyderabad State.
1952: First elections held in Hyderabad State.
Nov 1, 1956: Telangana merged with Andhra State, which was carved out of Madras State, to form Andhra Pradesh, a united state for Telugu-speaking people.
1969: 'Jai Telangana' movement for separate statehood to Telangana began. Over 300 people killed in police firing.
1972: 'Jai Andhra' movement began in coastal Andhra for separate Andhra State.
1975: Presidential order issued to implement Six Point Formula, providing some safeguards to Telangana.
1997: BJP supported demand for Telangana state; in 1998 election, it promised 'one vote two states'.
2001: K. Chandrasekhara Rao floated Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) to revive Telangana movement.
2004: TRS fought elections in alliance with Congress, wins five Lok Sabha and 26 assembly seats. UPA includes Telangana issue in common minimum programme.
2008: TDP announced support for Telangana demand.
2009: TRS contested elections in alliance with TDP but its tally came down to two Lok Sabha and 10 assembly seats.
Sep 2: Chief Minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy died in helicopter crash, triggering political uncertainty.
Oct 2009: Chandrasekhara Rao began fast-unto-death for Telangana state.
Dec 9: Centre announced decision to initiate the process for formation of Telangana state.
Dec 23: Following protests in Rayalaseema and Andhra regions (Seemandhra) and en mass resignations of MPs and state legislators, centre put the process on hold citing need for consensus.
Feb 3, 2010: Centre set up five-member Srikrishna committee to look into Telangana issue.
Dec 2010: Srikrishna committee submitted its report, suggested six options
July 30, 2013: UPA coordination panel and Congress Working Committee decided to carve out Telangana state. Protests in Seemandhra.
Oct 3, 2013: Union cabinet approved the proposal to divide Andhra Pradesh. A Group of Ministers (GoM) was constituted to prepare the roadmap after consultations with all stakeholders.
Oct 25, 2013: Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy raised banner of revolt against Congress leadership. He wrote letters to president and prime minister urging them to stop bifurcation process.
Dec 5, 2013: Union cabinet approved draft Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill 2013 prepared on the basis of recommendations by the GoM. Bill sent to President Pranab Mukherjee with a request to make a reference to Andhra Pradesh legislature to obtain its views under Article 3 of the Constitution.
Dec 9: The President gave time till Jan 23 to the state legislature to give its views.
Dec 12, 2013: Bill brought to Hyderabad in a special aircraft and amid tight security.
Dec 16, 2013: Bill introduced in both houses of state legislature amid clashes between Seemandhra and Telangana lawmakers.
Jan 8, 2014: After disruptions for several days, debate finally began on the bill in assembly and council.
Jan 21, 2014: State government sought four more weeks to debate the bill. The President gave one week.
Jan 27, 2014: Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy gave notice to assembly speaker for a resolution to reject the bill.
Jan 30, 2014: Amid ruckus, both houses of state legislature passed by a voice vote official resolutions, rejecting the bill and appealing to the President not to send the bill to parliament.
Feb 5, 2014: Chief minister staged sit-in in Delhi to oppose bifurcation.
Feb 7, 2014: Union cabinet cleared the bill and rejected Seemandhra leaders' demand to make Hyderabad a union territory. Bill sent to the President for his approval to table it in parliament.
Feb 11, 2013: Congress expelled six MPs from Seemandhra for moving no-confidence motion against government.
Feb 13, 2014: Bill introduced in Lok Sabha amid clashes between MPs from Seemandhra and Telangana. L. Rajagopal, a MP from Seemandhra, used pepper spray in the house. Speaker suspended 16 MPs including Rajagopal for rest of the session.
Feb 18, 2014: Lok Sabha passes Telangana bill