Parliament's nod to Telangana, PM promises Seemandhra special status
Telangana is all set to born as the 29th state in India as parliament Thursday gave its approval to divide Andhra Pradesh, triggering celebrations across Telangana but gloom in Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra regions.
Amid unprecedented bedlam, which even forced the Congress party members to form a protective ring before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh when he spoke, the Rajya Sabha passed, by voice vote, the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill.
Meeting the demands of opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and clearing the decks for the passage of the bill, the prime minister, whose speech was not inaudible among slogan-shouting by anti-Telangana MPs, announced a package for Seemandhra, as the two other regions are collectively called.
Members of Communist Party of India-Marxist and DMK staged a walk out before the bill was passed, while the Shiv Sena, Trinamool Congress and Samajwadi Party were among the parties that opposed the bill.
The bill, passed amid as chaotic conditions in the Lok Sabha Tuesday amid a telecast blackout, will now go to president for his assent. The central government will then publish a gazette notification. With this, two states of Telugu-speaking people will come into existence.
The passing of the bill capped nearly five-year-long turbulence in the southern state and realising nearly six-decade-old dream of Telangana people for a separate state.
Telangana state will comprise 10 districts - Hyderabad, Ranga Reddy, Medak, Nalgonda, Mahabubnagar, Karimnagar, Warangal, Khammam, Nizamabad and Adilabad. It will have about 3.5 crore population.
Hyderabad, the capital of existing Andhra Pradesh, will be a common capital of both the states for 10 years.
The residuary state of Andhra Pradesh comprising Seemandhra will have 13 districts and a population of over 5 crore.
It is in fact a revival of statehood for Telangana, which existed as Hyderabad State from 1950 to 1956, when it was merged with then Andhra State to form Andhra Pradesh, a state for Telugu-speaking people.
Telangana, a backward region, witnessed first major movement for separate statehood in 1969 and it was revived with the formation of Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) in 2000.
In his intervention in the debate on the bill which was marked by several adjournments and slogan shouting by members opposed to the creation of the new state, Manmohan Singh sought to reach out to Seemandhra, assuring that special status will be given for five years to the residual state of Andhra Pradesh.
Before the passage of the bill, Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley said that there was need to amend the constitution on proposal of powers given to the governor concerning law and order. However, the government did not agree to his suggestion.
After the bill was passed, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath expressed his happiness, saying that there was demand for Telangana state for almost 60 years.
Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said that the bill had been passed with support of several parties.
The bill was passed after repeated adjournments and protests by members from Seemandhra region and following a deal between Congress and BJP.
The main opposition party, which moved no amendment in Lok Sabha, mooted some amendments but they were rejected by voice vote.
While the BJP fought for a fair deal for Seemandhra, the MPs of Congress and other parties from Seemandhra merely indulged in slogan-shouting.
K. Chiranjeevi was the only minister from Seemandhra to speak on the bill. He suggested that Hyderabad be made a union territory at least for 10 years.
Earlier, Shinde tabled the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill amidst protests.
Some members opposed to the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh walked towards Shinde in an effort to interrupt him but were stopped by MPs from the Congress and those favouring a separate Telangana state.
The passage of the bill triggered wild celebrations in Telangana. People came out on streets, burst crackers and distributed sweets in Hyderabad and other parts of the region.
It was gloom in Seemandhra. People in some places staged protests and blamed their leaders for failing to stall division.
TRS chief K. Chandrasekhara Rao termed the passage of the bill as a historic development. He told reporters in Delhi that it was not the defeat of any region. He said people of the two states would live as brothers.
Rao thanked Congress president Sonia Gandhi. "Without her support, this would not have become possible," he said.
(Posted on 20-02-2014)