Luncheon diplomacy over Telangana, PM meets BJP leaders
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Wednesday indulged in a bit of luncheon diplomacy as he met top leaders of the BJP to discuss the bill for formation of a separate Telangana state.
According to sources, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders said they did not have any issues with the bill but concerns of both parties should be addressed.
The BJP leaders also made it clear that the bill shall not be passed in din, or without a debate and told the government to "put its house in order" as Congress MPs were among those creating ruckus in both houses of parliament.
Veteran BJP leader L.K. Advani, party president Rajnath Singh and leaders of opposition in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley respectively, attended the meeting.
The bill is pending introduction in the Lok Sabha.
Congress members from Seemandhra region, along with members of the Telugu Desam Party and YSR Congress have been protesting against bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh and formation of Telangana.
Congress Tuesday even expelled six of its protesting MPs from the party.
However, protests were again seen Wednesday, forcing Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge to cut short his speech while presenting the interim railway budget.
The government had earlier planned to bring the bill in the Rajya Sabha first. However, as the bill has financial implications, the government is now bound to bring it in the Lok Sabha first.
The sources said the issue of some other bills pending in parliament, specially the anti-graft bills, was also taken up by the prime minister but the BJP remained non-committal on them.
The BJP leaders also said the government was trying to use parliament for its electoral agenda by passing the bills in the last session before the Lok Sabha polls.
Union ministers P. Chidambaram, A.K. Antony, Kamal Nath and Sushilkumar Shinde were present at the meet.
(Posted on 12-02-2014)