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BJP talks tough on Telangana; demands new clauses in bill

By Vicky Nanjappa
February 04, 2014 12:28 IST
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The BJP, the same party which in 2009 had said, ‘Give us power and you will have Telangana within 24 hours’, seems to be finding the going a bit bumpy. Vicky Nanjappa explains why.

While the core committee of the Bharatiya Janata Party has not entirely opposed the idea of Telangana, it is all set to introduce some clauses in the Telangana Bill, which will be introduced in Parliament this week, and which the Congress may find hard to accept.

The clauses:

  • A 10-year tax holiday to lure industrialists
  • Upgrade the Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam and Tirupati airports to international airports
  • Declare a capital for Seema-Andhra in the Bill
  • A Comprehensive plan for the safety of Seema-Andhra people living in Telangana
  • Set up steel plants in Rayalseema
  • Government employees should be given an option on their posting post bifurcation
  • Special package for backward areas in Seema-Andhra
  • Clarity on revenue sharing of Hyderabad
  • 200 TMC feet of water from inter-river basin transfer to Rayalaseema
  • Statutory provision for protection of all ongoing irrigation projects in all three regions
  • Institutes and infrastructure projects to be established in Seema-Andhra

The BJP will demand that all these clauses be included in the Bill before it is passed in Parliament. If they are not, then it will not support the Bill.

Under the Vajpayee regime, the BJP had promised that they would not ignore Seema-Andhra at any cost; but at that time, there were no tensions between the two regions (Telangana and Seema-Andhra).

The BJP introduced these clauses in consultation with their prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, and said that it was in the best interest of all regions of Andhra Pradesh.

The BJP realises that by supporting the Telangana Bill in its existing form, it earns the wrath of the people of Seema-Andhra. The party is looking for a strong alliance in the region, and is juggling between YSR Congress supremo Jagan Mohan Reddy and the Telugu Desam Party for support.

While it appears as though there would be a BJP-TDP alliance, the latter has put forth several demands. Most importantly, the TDP wants the BJP to oppose the bifurcation of Telangana if the alliance is to go through.

In that case, the BJP will seek out Jagan, who desperately wants a say in the Union government. This is a factor that has lessened the bargaining capacity of the TDP.

BJP bigwigs are scheduled to meet in a couple of days, following which they will put forth their proposal before the Congress.

The United Progressive Alliance has committed to pass the Telangana bill, but needs the support of the BJP for it to go through.

Both the BJP and the Congress want the Bill to be passed. The Congress wants it for its electoral gains, and the BJP wants to avoid the headache of such a controversial bifurcation under its regime, in case it comes to power in 2014.

Image courtesy: KBK Graphics

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