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Tug of war erupts as Telangana bill arrives at AP assembly

December 12, 2013 11:57 IST

The Andhra Pradesh assembly has been given six weeks time to take a call on the state reorganisation bill that seeks to create a separate Telangana state.

President Pranab Mukherjee suggested this time limit on Wednesday night when he remitted the bill back to the Union government to be on passed to the state legislature.

However, the Telangana statehood was not even on the agenda of the assembly which reconvened on Thursday morning.

Instead, the main agenda was the relief measures for the cyclone-affected areas of the state.

The Business Advisory Committee, which fixes the agenda for the session, has not included Telangana in it and this has earned the wrath of the Telangana MLAs who are doing everything to push the topic on the agenda.

The argument being put forth by Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy and his team is that when the BAC drew up the agenda for the day, the Telangana Bill had not yet been referred to the assembly.

Analysts say that the Seema-Andhra leaders are trying to wind up the assembly session in five days. On Thursday, the session was adjourned for Friday. If they are unable to stall the discussion on the bill in the assembly, their plan B would be to resign.

Senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh will arrive at Hyderabad on Thursday and convince the Seema-Andhra leaders to let the bill go through.

The tug of war would now be between Telangana and Seema-Andhra legislators. The Telangana MLAs, who are in minority, will push the Kiran Reddy government to discuss the bill this session itself.

A lot would depend on the talks that Singh holds with the leaders. It is unlikely that he will pacify the Seema-Andhra leaders and the ball would ultimately be in the court of the Speaker.

On Friday, when the assembly resumes, the Telangana MLAs will push for the bill to be discussed.

Meanwhile, protests have been reported from the Seema-Andhra region following the referring of the bill to the assembly. The protestors want to ensure that their leaders do not buckle in front of the Congress high command’s emissary.

However, the fact is that the opinion of the state assembly is only customary and not binding on the President. In case the assembly does not take any call in 6 weeks, the President could go ahead and place the Bill before the Parliament, which will have to pass it.

The UPA is likely to have a special session of Parliament in the end of January or first week of February for the Telangana bill exclusively.

Some leaders point out that the Parliament requires just a day to pass the bill. However, if the UPA needs to get the bill passed then it has to do so before March since the election code of conduct is likely to set in by then.

Vicky Nanjappa