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Cong hopes to realise Telangana before 2014 Lok Sabha polls

July 29, 2013 23:17 IST

Cong hopes to realise Telangana before 2014 Lok Sabha polls

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Anita Katyal in New Delhi

Senior Congress party leaders though continue to be divided on the formation of Telangana state, political expediency finally won the day, reports Anita Katyal

The Congress which is set to give a formal go ahead to the formation of Telangana state, is looking to introduce and pass the statehood bill in the winter session of Parliament. The party hopes the new state can be created before next year’s Lok Sabha and Andhra Pradesh assembly polls.

The Congress party is confident the bill will sail through, as the principle opposition, the Bharatiya Janata Party, has taken a public position in favour of Telangana.

United Progressive Alliance sources told rediff.com that the Congress would have liked to push the bill through in next week’s monsoon session but realises it won’t be possible as the procedures for the creation of a new state are unlikely to be completed in such a short period.

A formal announcement on the division of Andhra Pradesh is expected on Tuesday after the Congress confers with its partners at a specially-convened meeting of the UPA coordination committee. The discussions are expected to proceed smoothly without any objections as Agriculture Minister and Nationalist Congress Party leader Sharad Pawar has said on several occasions in the past that he is in agreement with the demand for Telangana.

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Photographs: SnapsIndia

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Congress wants to derive maximum political mileage from Telangana decision

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The decision will be subsequently endorsed by the Congress Working Committee to be chaired by party president Sonia Gandhi. The Congress core group, which discussed the issue for three consecutive meetings, had taken a decision on creating Telangana.

Although the Congress dithered over the statehood demand for nearly three years, it has now put it on fast-track in view of next year’s Lok Sabha and Andhra Pradesh assembly elections, which is to be held simultaneously. Congress leaders admit it was not easy to decide in favour of Telangana in view of the political repercussions of such a move. But since the party has decided to bite the bullet, it would like to derive maximum political mileage from the decision.

The Congress was also forced to accept the statehood demand because the Bharatiya Janata Party has promised the creation of Telangana and was planning to make it an election issue in its campaign. The Congress would find itself in a tight spot if the NDA comes to power and moves ahead on dividing Andhra Pradesh. It would then be forced to support the statehood bill. By making the first move, it hopes to deny any credit to the BJP on the issue

Once the formal announcement is made, the matter will be placed before the Union Cabinet along with a tentative draft of the required bill. Once approved by the Cabinet, the draft is finalised in consultation with the law ministry. It is then sent to the President for referring to the state legislature under Article 3 of the Constitution. After the views of the state assembly have been received within a time frame specified by the President, the bill is introduced in Parliament.

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Image: A Telangana supporter shouts slogans during a demonstration in Hyderabad
Photographs: Krishnendu Halder/Reuters

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Cong expected to ask state legislature to pass resolution for Telangana

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The procedure for the creation of any state is governed by Article 3 of the Constitution under which no bill for this purpose “can be introduced in either House of Parliament except on the recommendation of the President and unless, the bill has been referred by the President to the legislature of that state for expressing their view within such a period as the President may allow and the period so specified or allowed has expired.”  

UPA officials explained that the President can give a go ahead to the government if the state assembly does not respond to the Presidential reference within the specified period.

Similarly, the demand for a new state is usually processed by the Centre after it receives a resolution in this regard from the concerned assembly.

In the case of Andhra Pradesh, the Congress is expected to ask the state legislature to pass a formal resolution pressing for the state of Telangana. UPA sources said though Article 3 does not necessarily require a resolution from the assembly, it has now become a precedent, as this was the procedure adopted in the case of Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand during the National Democratic Alliance regime.

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Congress making all efforts to see no adverse fall out on Telangana

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The Congress has held several rounds of discussion with the Andhra Pradesh leaders to ensure there is no adverse fall out when a formal decision on Telangana is announced. However, party MPs and legislators from the Rayalseema and coastal regions, who are pitching for a united Andhra Pradesh, have even threatened to put in their papers if the state is bifurcated.

Even Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy has said he will not allow the formation of Telangana and will resign if this decision goes through. The Congress will make all efforts to see there are no resignations.

Congress sources said that though senior party leaders were divided on the issue, political expediency finally won the day. Andhra Pradesh has 42 Lok Sabha seats of which the Congress won 33 in 2009. The party realised it would have been routed in the next year’s polls as it was being squeezed out in the Telangana region because of the strong public sentiment for a new state. The party has also been facing marginalisation by Jaganmohan Reddy’s YSR Congress in the Rayalseema and coastal regions.

The Congress believes it would be able to offset its losses in this region by making gains in Telangana which has 17 Lok Sabha seats. This figure could go up to 21 if the Centre goes ahead with the move to include the districts of Kurnool and Anantpur in the newly-carved state.

This would mean that both states will have 21 seats each giving the Congress a chance to win more seats in Telangana while reducing the tally of the YSR Congress. As for the contentious issue of Hyderabad, it could be a shared capital between the two states.

As for a possible merger of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi, which has been spearheading the statehood movement, the Congress plans to initiate these discussions only after the formation of the new state.   


Image: A pro-Telangana supporter listens to a speaker during a protest in New Delhi
Photographs: Adnan Abidi/Reuters

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