Congress general secretary and leader-in-charge of Andhra Pradesh Digvijaya Singh added to the confusion surrounding the Telangana issue on Thursday when he spoke about the possibility of a Constitutional Amendment to create a separate state.
He made the statement a day before a meeting of the Congress Core Committee in Delhi to discuss the contentious issue.
Incidentally, the Constitution already has a provision to form new states. Article 2, 3 and 4 of the Indian Constitution speak about the admission or establishment of new states, formation of new states and alteration of existing states.
Telangana activists argue that Digvijaya’s statement is yet another tactic to delay a final decision on the issue. Why does Telangana need a Constitutional Amendment when none was needed during the creation of Uttarakhand, Jharkhand or Chattisgarh, they argue.
In the 32nd amendment to the Constitution, two new articles -- 371 (D) and 371 (E) -- were inserted with the header, ‘Special provisions with respect to Andhra Pradesh’.
This amendment was then inserted into the 7th schedule of the Indian Constitution which deals with the Union list, state list and the concurrent list.
Article 368 clearly states that if any change is to be made under the 7th schedule, then it has to be adopted by a special majority. Both houses of Parliament have to pass the Bill with a two thirds majority. Such an amendment also has to be ratified by state legislatures.
This means 50 per cent of the states have to give their nod in case the amendment has to be ratified.
If the ruling United Progressive Alliance agrees to the creation of a separate state and seeks a Constitutional Amendment, it would require a special majority and the agreement of 50 per cent of Indian states.
To cut a long story short, the ruling alliance would need a national consensus on the Constitutional Amendment to create Telangana. Merely agreeing to the creation of a state to earn brownie points before the Lok Sabha polls will not solve this niggling problem.
The states of Uttarakhand, Jharkhand and Chattisgarh were carved out of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh respectively by the National Democratic Alliance under the provisions of Articles 2, 3 and 4 of the Indian Constitution. The creation of these states did not pose too much of a constitutional hassle as there was no special provision mentioned, as in the case of Andhra Pradesh.