Adopting an aggressive stance and seeking to push the Centre on the defencive, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy on Saturday questioned the very validity of AP Reorganisation Bill-2013 saying it was violative not only of parliamentary procedures but also the Constitution of India.
"The bill, referred to the state legislature by the President, is full of mistakes and lacunae. In fact, the Centre itself is not clear whether it is a draft bill or the (actual) bill," Reddy said in the assembly on Saturday afternoon, asserting that it could not be discussed in the present form.
"The bill does not contain the 'objects and reasons', the scope of proposals or the financial memorandum. It has not been specified in the bill why are they (the Centre) seeking to divide the state," he pointed out.
How could we (state Legislature) express our views on the bill without the Centre stating its views, he wondered.
"Initially they said it's the bill. When we sought clarifications, objects and reasons and financial memorandum, the Union home secretary replied it's only a draft bill. How could they send a draft bill to the President?" he questioned.
Only the bill with full particulars should go the President and not the draft bill, Reddy said, referring to the explanations to Article 3 of the Constitution.
Quoting from the Manual of Parliamentary Procedures, the chief minister said any draft bill should be referred to the law minister after the Union Cabinet cleared it.
Only after the law minister vetted it, the draft bill has to be sent to the President with the statement of objects and reasons, scope of proposals, financial memorandum and other details.
The Centre violated Rules 11, 12, 9, 4, 5, 32 and 54 (of parliament procedures) and also the Constitution of India in drafting the AP Reorganisation Bill-2013, he said.
Quoting eminent constitutional expert Durga Das Basu, he said: "Once the original bill has been referred to the state or states, the purpose has been served. No further reference is required if the Centre subsequently proposes any amendments (to the bill)."
"This is only in the case of original bill and not the draft," Reddy said.
Several provisions that were not in the Constitution, like having a common capital for two states and Governor's rule, were made part of the AP Reorganisation Bill.
"How is this possible? How can they be incorporated in the bill," the chief minister questioned.
"Should we accept such a Bill that is full of lacunae?" he further asked.
Noting that he "never compromised" on the issue of a united state, Kiran Reddy said he never remained silent whenever the Congress high command raised the issue of state bifurcation.
"I clearly told them that I can't continue (as CM) if the state is divided. This is not a one day affair or one season affair. People of two states will have to fight for years in the event of bifurcation. Hence, I never compromised on keeping the state united," he said.
"I have no personal interest in this nor is it intended to block creation of Telangana state. But it's in the larger interests of the state and the country," Reddy explained.