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Revealed: BJP-Congress games behind Telangana Bill

February 07, 2014 22:23 IST

BJP-Congress games behind Telangana Bill

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Renu Mittal

Opposition BJP has assured the ruling UPA that it would support the bill for the creation of Telangana in Parliament. Renu Mittal explains why

The decks have been cleared for tabling the Telangana Bill in Parliament which will bifurcate Andhra Pradesh and create the 29th state of India.

After many delays and hurdles, the Union Cabinet has passed the Telangana Bill, which will now be sent to President Pranab Mukherjee for his approval and then be tabled in Parliament. 

The Telangana Bill included all 33 amendments proposed by the Group of Ministers and it will be presented in the Rajya Sabha on February 12.

After the Bill was approved by the Cabinet on Friday evening, the Congress Core Committee held a meeting to discuss the logistics of getting it passed and handling the matter.

The government has chosen to present it at the Rajya Sabha first to ensure that the Bill does not get derailed in any way in the current session of Parliament, which also happens to be the last one before the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls. 

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Image: Cut-outs of Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi
Photographs: SnapsIndia

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BJP-Congress games behind Telangana Bill

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Renu Mittal

Union ministers from Seemandhra region were present during the Cabinet meeting on Telangana, said sources, adding that they neither voiced their protest nor opposed the Bill, which was cleared while retaining most of its original flavour.

There were no fireworks in the Cabinet meeting today, though there was a question mark over the fate of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy, who has vociferously opposed the creation of Telangana.

It is not yet clear if the Congress leadership will retain Reddy as the CM or they will show him the door to impose President’s rule till the new state is created.

Meanwhile, opposition Bharatiya Janata Party has assured the Union government that it will support the bill for the creation of Telangana as, in the words of a senior party leader, “The BJP does not want to carry the baggage of Telangana into the 16th Lok Sabha. We would like to end the chapter here by passing the bill and creating Telangana”.

The saffron party is hopeful about forming the next government at the Centre and does not want the Telangana issue to continue, said the BJP leader.

He added that the party is hopeful about gaining some political mileage from the contentious issue in certain seats in Telangana, particularly if it ties up with the Telangana Rashtra Samiti.

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Image: A protest by the YSR Congress against the formation of Telangana
Photographs: SnapsIndia

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BJP-Congress games behind Telangana Bill

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Renu Mittal

TRS chief Chandrashekhar Rao is in touch with both the Congress and the BJP. 

Rao’s son wants the TRS to tie up with the BJP since the Congress is being seen as a sinking ship which has no prospects of forming the next government at the Centre, said sources.

In Seemandhra region, the BJP has kept channels of communication open with Telugu Desam Party leader Chandrababu Naidu -- who met senior leaders of the Opposition party in Delhi recently -- as well as with YSR Congress chief Jagan Reddy.

Reddy, who is currently in Delhi, met Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley and others to discuss a tie-up in the two remaining regions of the state.

Prior to the Cabinet meeting, senior Congress leaders were in touch with their counterparts in the BJP, said sources, to persuade the latter to support the Telangana Bill.

Congress leader Jaipal Reddy met Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj and others in an attempt to convince them about the bill.

The Union cabinet cleared the Telangana Bill after deliberating over it at a two-hour long meeting at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s residence.

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Image: Pro-Telangana lawyers burn an effigy of CM Kiran Kumar Reddy in Hyderabad
Photographs: SnapsIndia

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BJP-Congress games behind Telangana Bill

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Renu Mittal

While Hyderabad would be the joint capital of the two states for the next 10 years, the demand of the MPs from Seemandhra to make the capital a union territory has been rejected, since Telangana leaders felt that such a move would negate the very object of creating a separate state.

Such a step would also be counter-productive for the Congress since the real fight between supporters of Telangana and Seemandhra has been for Hyderabad, the IT hub where industrialists from Rayalseema and coastal Andhra have pumped in huge amounts of money.

A proposed model for revenue sharing over Hyderabad has also been ruled out by the Cabinet, which has, instead, proposed a special financial package for Seemandhra.

But the token gesture is unlikely to keep those who had demanded a united Andhra happy.

Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy had even held a meeting with President Pranab Mukherjee in Delhi and urged him to stall the creation of Telangana.

In an interview, he told a TV channel that he is ready to be sacked to continue the fight for a united Andhra Pradesh.

The meeting of the Congress Core Committee, meanwhile, discussed the Telangana issue and the ongoing Parliament session, which has been stalled by Members of Parliament from Telangana and Seemandhra alike.

The MPs have not allowed either House to go about its business in the first three days of the second half of the winter session, which will be the final session of the 15th Lok Sabha, before the country heads to Parliamentary polls.

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Image: Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy
Photographs: SnapsIndia

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