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Will the Congress' final push for Telangana pay off?

February 12, 2014 01:38 IST

After having gone out on a limb over the creation of Telangana, the UPA government is expected to go for the kill and do whatever it takes to pass the bill in Lok Sabha. But the question remains whether the Congress would really be able to push the bill in the noise and confusion. Renu Mittal reports.

The bill to carve out a new state of Telangana will now be introduced in the Lok Sabha instead of the Rajya Sabha, with the United Progressive Alliance government in a state of utter confusion on whether it’s a money bill or not.

While Finance Minister P Chidambaram worsened the confusion by advising the government that it’s not a money bill, the Union law ministry has maintained the opposite stand.

A money bill has to be introduced and passed in the Lok Sabha first.

An informal meeting of the Congress core committee on Tuesday afternoon decided to introduce the Telangana bill in the Lok Sabha on Thursday.

The government is also talking to the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party leaders with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh having invited senior leaders L K Advani, Rajnath Singh, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley for dinner where Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath are also expected to be present.

While not opposing the bill, the BJP is not giving any categorical assurances on whether it would support the bill or not. Sources say the BJP does not want to support the bill as it will give the Congress a big advantage in Telangana and would end the tenure of the 15th Lok Sabha on a note of achievement for the ruling alliance. At the same time, the BJP does not want to be seen as opponents of the bill either.

Meanwhile, the Congress on its part sent out a strong message on Tuesday to all those opposing Telangana by expelling six party MPs from Seemandhra as they were conducting a signature campaign for a no-confidence motion against the government. The six expelled MPs met on Tuesday evening at the residence of Arun Kumar to chalk out their strategy as they are now unattached and not bound by party discipline.

Meanwhile, Telangana Rashtra Samiti chief K Chandrashekhar Rao has been meeting leaders of political parties, including Congress president Sonia Gandhi, to garner support for the bill. The Congress, in its part, is also trying to get other opposition parties on board even though its own ally, the National Conference, has advised the leadership to drop the Telangana bill as “people of the state are not in favour of the bill”.

To ensure that the allies are on board, the government has called a meeting of the UPA co-ordination committee on Wednesday evening to get the maximum support.

It is also learnt that Rajya Sabha chairman Hamid Ansari ticked Kamal Nath off by wanting to know why he was parking all controversial bills in the Upper House. The vice president was referring to the consistent uproar created by the Seemandhra leaders over the issue.

After having gone out on a limb over the creation of Telangana, the government is expected to go for the kill and do whatever it takes to pass the bill since the creation of the new state could pay the Congress some dividends, especially if they tie-up with the TRS.

As one analyst remarked, “The creation of the new state would make Sonia Gandhi the Nelson Mandela of Telangana”.

But the question remains whether the Congress would really be able to push the bill in the noise and confusion, since it is highly unlikely that the House would work in an orderly fashion in the remaining days of its tenure.

Image: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi

Photograph: B Mathur/Reuters

Renu Mittal in New Delhi