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The bumpy road to Telangana

August 07, 2013 21:31 IST

Although the Congress leadership and UPA has given its nod for Telangana, the road to the separate state is surely going to be a complicated one, reports Anita Katyal.

Even though Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram had informed the Rajya Sabha on Monday that a Cabinet note is being prepared to go into the substantive and procedural issues concerning the formation of Telangana, the matter is not listed on the agenda at Thursday’s Cabinet meeting.

Different reasons are being cited by United Progressive Alliance leaders for not placing the matter before the Cabinet although the Congress Working Committee had recommended the formation of Telangana to the UPA government over a week ago.

According to a senior UPA minister, the bill on the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh can be taken up only after the Centre receives a resolution from the state assembly recommending the creation of Telangana. But given the deep division between the legislators from Telangana and the coastal and Rayalaseema regions, it will be difficult to ensure the adoption of such a resolution in the state assembly.

While it is not legally binding on the Centre to first receive a resolution from the state assembly, the UPA government would prefer to do so as this was the procedure followed during the formation of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Uttarakhand.

Another UPA source said the Congress will bring the matter before the Cabinet after it has adequately placated its own MPs and legislators from the Seema-Andhra region who have been protesting against the formation of Telangana.

Responding to their protests, Congress president Sonia Gandhi set up a four-member committee on Wednesday, headed by Defence Minister A K Antony, to address their concerns. Other members of the panel are All India Congress Committee general secretary Digvijaya Singh, Petroleum Minister Veerappa Moily and Congress president’s political secretary Ahmed Patel.

It is only after this panel has sorted out all outstanding issues with the Seema- Andhra MPs that the government will take the next step in the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh.

Seema-Andhra MPs have embarrassed the Congress leadership by joining hands with their Telugu Desam Party counterparts in disrupting Parliament to demand a united Andhra Pradesh.

The angry state Congress leaders from coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions had upped the ante last Saturday by adopting three resolutions -- including one seeking Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy’s resignation and another pressing for a rethink on the statehood issue.

The central ministers from the region met Sonia Gandhi and Digvijaya Singh over the last two days to press for a united state but were categorically told that there was no going back on the formation of Telangana.

After being ticked off in no uncertain terms, the Seema-Andhra contingent has reconciled to the division of the state. They are now demanding that Hyderabad should be declared a Union Territory on the same lines as Chandigarh while seeking a greater say in the division of liabilities and assets between the two states.

The Seema-Andhra MPs had pressed ahead with their protests as they were worried that their concern of their regions may be overlooked as the Centre goes ahead with the preparation of a Cabinet note relating to the separate state of Telangana.

Explaining the steps which have to be undertaken for the formation of a separate state, Union home ministry officials said that Article 3 of the Constitution lays down that a statehood bill can be introduced in Parliament on the recommendation of the President who has to refer the same to the state legislature for its comments which have to be sent back within a given time fame.

However, the President can recommend the bill to Parliament if does not receive the state assembly’s comments within the specified period.

The government is required to build a consensus on the issue by consulting all the concerned stakeholders while “the state government may send a proposal supported by a resolution adopted by the state assembly.”

The matter is then placed before the Union Cabinet along with a tentative draft of the bill. After it is approved by the Cabinet, the draft bill is finalised in consultation with the law ministry and submitted to the President for referring to the state legislature under Article 3 of the Constitution. The bill is introduced in Parliament after the views of the state legislature have been received within the period allowed by the President.

Image: Government workers from the Seema-Andhra regions protest against move to create Telangana, in Hyderabad.

Photograph: SnapsIndia

Anita Katyal in New Delhi