The bill for formation of separate Telangana state on Friday reached Andhra Pradesh assembly, nearly 24 hours after the central government sent it to the state by a special aircraft and after the house was adjourned following unprecedented uproar.
The much-awaited draft Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill 2013 came to the assembly only after the house was adjourned till Monday and the delay led to Telangana Congress leaders seeking removal of Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy while legislators from the region moved a privilege notice against Chief Secretary PK Mohanty.
The bill was brought to the assembly from the state secretariat by a senior official of the general administration department amid tight security. The Business Advisory Committee (BAC) of the assembly will meet Monday to take a decision as to when the bill should be taken up for debate.
Telangana legislators are demanding that the house immediately take up the debate and if necessary extend the winter session, which is ending December 20.
However, the lawmakers from Seemandhra are opposing the demand and they want the house to pass a resolution to urge the central government to keep the state united.
The Seemandhra leaders including the chief minister also want voting on the bill, though the president has only asked the opinion of the house.
Both houses of the legislature were rocked by protests since morning as legislators from Telangana, across party lines, demanded immediate debate on the bill.
The state assembly and the legislative council were adjourned till Monday as lawmakers from Telangana and Seemandhra (Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra regions) trooped towards the presiding officers' podium in both houses.
Utter pandemonium prevailed in the assembly even before Speaker N Manohar entered the house.
Legislators of all the parties, including those from the ruling Congress, besieged the speaker's podium and raised slogans.
Those from Telangana demanded "we want Telangana bill", while the members from Seemandhra, opposing the bifurcation, countered them with slogans of "Jai samaikyandhra" or united Andhra.
The delay in sending the bill to the assembly angered the Telangana leaders of the ruling party. Deputy Chief Minister Damodar Rajanarasimha and other ministers from the region said they had lost confidence in the chief minister and demanded his removal.
"He deliberately ensured that the bill does not reach the assembly before its adjournment. We believe that the bill can't come up for debate as long as he is the chief minister," said D. K. Aruna, a minister from Telangana.
Angry over the delay, Telangana legislators cutting across party lines gave a privilege notice against the chief secretary to the speaker.
The legislators of Telangana Rashtra Samithi, Telugu Desam Party, the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Communist Party of India alleged that Mohanty committed breach of privilege by not sending the bill in the morning.
A senior official of the union home ministry Thursday evening had handed over the bill to the chief secretary. Mohanty had later called on the chief minister to inform him about the receipt of the bill along with the direction from the president to return it along with the assembly's opinion by Jan 23.
The union cabinet Dec 5 approved the draft bill and sent it to the president with a request to refer it to the assembly under article 3 of the Constitution.
As the winter session of parliament is also ending Dec 20, Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh said a special session may be convened to pass the bill.
Winding up his two-day visit to Hyderabad, he told reporters that the government after the discussion with the opposition parties can request the president to convene a special session of the parliament for any specific reason.
"The government of India after taking into consideration the opinion of the assembly decide on the bill to be presented in parliament," he said.
Making it clear that the decision of Congress Working Committee (CWC) to bifurcate the state is final, he said all Congressmen including the chief minister were bound by the decision.
Tension prevailed at the state secretariat as the employees of Seemandhra and Telangana nearly came to blows over the bill.
Employees of Seemandhra took out a rally when officials were transporting the bill to the state assembly amid tight security.
Employees from Telangana began a counter protest and the secretariat was rocked by the slogans from both the sides.