The draft bill, approved by the Union abinet, seems to be much more favorable to the wishes of the people from Telangana than it is for those from Seemandhra, says Mohammed Siddique
The historic decision of the Union Cabinet to clear the Andhra Pradesh State Reorganisation Bill -- also known as the Telangana Bill -- has come as a huge disappointment to political leaders from Seemandhra, especially Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy.
A sense of shock prevailed over the CM’s office when news trickled in about the Cabinet’s approval for the Telangana Bill and its decision to present the bill in Rajya Sabha on February 12.
“This leaves hardly any other option for the chief minister but to resign as he had threatened to do earlier,” revealed a minister close to Reddy.
Last week, the Andhra Pradesh CM had openly dared the United Progressive Alliance government at the Centre, led by his own party Congress, to move the Bill in its present form.
“If you do so, I will quit,” he had said.
After holding a protest at Jantar Mantar in Delhi earlier this week, Reddy had told his Cabinet colleagues that he would step down if the Bill was introduced in Parliament. He also indicated that he will go ahead with his plans of floating a regional political party in Seemandhra.
Pro-Telangana activists, meanwhile, are elated over the latest development. The Cabinet’s decision -- after days of uncertainty and confusion -- brought cheer to Telangana leaders.
Ministers from Telangana region, who were manhandled during their protest against the chief minister, are feeling particularly vindicated.
The draft bill seems to be much more favorable to the wishes of the people from Telangana than it is for those from Seemandhra, as the Union Cabinet has rejected the latter’s demand of making Hyderabad a union territory.
Instead, the Union Cabinet has decided to make Hyderabad a joint capital of the two states -- Telangana and residuary Andhra Pradesh -- for a period of maximum ten years.
In a delicate balancing act, the Cabinet has also decided to give a financial package to the backward regions of Seemandhra.
This will benefit Rayalaseema and regions in North Andhra, which are comparatively backward.
In another concession to the Seemandhra region, the Cabinet has recommended that the Centre should help in building the new capital and grant permission for the use of forest lands for the purpose.
On the other amendments sought by various quarters -- including the demand to not hand over the control of Hyderabad’s law and order to the Centre and handing over parts of Khammam district to Andhra -- the Cabinet has decided to have a discussion in Parliament.
The proceedings of both Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha have been paralysed for the last three days as the Members of Parliament from Seemandhra region have been holding noisy protests by rushing to the Well of the House.
The determination shown by the Centre in going ahead with the legislation suggests that the MPs will be suspended from the House if they continue with their tactics of stalling the proceedings.
Image: Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy ' Photograph: SnapsIndia