The Union cabinet on Thursday night gave the go-ahead for the creation of a 10-district Telangana and outlined the blueprint for carving out the country’s 29th state from the current Andhra Pradesh. Dropping a controversial move to add two districts of Rayalaseema — Kurnool and Anantapur — to Telangana, which was opposed by various stakeholders, the cabinet, presided over by prime minister Manmohan Singh, approved a draft reorganisation bill based on recommendations of Group of Ministers (GoM).
According to the Union cabinet’s decision that deliberated on the GoM’s report and the draft bill for more than two hours, Telangana shall consist of 10 districts as envisaged in the beginning. The successor state of Andhra Pradesh will comprise 13 districts. Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde said Greater Hyderabad will be the shared capital of both the states for a period of not less than 10 years.
Sources said the GoM proposal to include two districts of Rayalaseema failed to get through in the cabinet in the wake of very strong opposition, especially from the Telangana Rashtriya Samiti (TRS) that gave an ultimatum to launch an agitation. However, another reason that probably made the government abandon the proposal of a bigger Rayala-Telangana was the exit polls that gave a clear majority to BJP in four out of five states that have gone to the polls recently. The BJP had made it clear that it would not accept the proposal of a bigger Telangana. Given the exit poll result the Congress probably is afraid of smaller parties siding with BJP and making the electoral battle difficult for it in Telangana too in 2014 elections.
The Congress is keen to speed up the process and grant statehood to Telangana to reap poll benefits in 2014 elections. The legislation will now be sent to the president who would refer it to the Andhra Pradesh Assembly to review it and give comments.
Sources said that though the usual practice is to give at least a month’s time to the state legislature to vet the state Reorganisation Bill, the government may seek a lesser time in its eagerness to place it in the parliament in winter session itself. The bill gives Telangana governor special responsibility to secure the life, liberty and property of all the people residing in the common capital with the help of two advisors appointed by the Centre. The Centre will extend financial and other support to the creation of a new capital for successor Andhra Pradesh that will be identified by an Expert committee.
Polavaram will be declared a national project and will be executed by the Centre following all environmental and relief and rehabilitation norms, the cabinet decision said. The cabinet decided to continue Article 371 D status for both the successor states to ensure equitable opportunities for education and public employment.
Meanwhile, The bandh called by TRS in the Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh, to oppose move to create Rayala-Telangana, evoked good response on Thursday in Hyderabd while the shutdown was near-total and peaceful in Telangana districts, police said. “As many as 524 agitators were taken into preventive custody from different parts of the city,” city Police Commissioner Anurag Sharma said, adding, that the over all situation was peaceful. However, tension prevailed in the Osmania University (OU) campus here when pro-Telangana students pelted stones on security personnel who responded by lobbing tear gas shells.
Normal life was affected in the Hyderabad as well as at the Telangana districts due to suspension of RTC bus services even as educational institutions, business establishments remained closed.
As a precautionary measure large number of police personnel were deployed at various places.