Telangana bill tabled, lawmakers clash
The bill for bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh was Monday tabled in the assembly amid unprecedented acrimony, as legislators of Seemandhra and Telangana regions nearly came to blows outside.
The Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill, 2013, sent by President Pranab Mukherjee for formation of Telangana was moved in the assembly as well as the legislative council amid strong protests by lawmakers from Seemandhra (Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra).
Both the houses were adjourned and it was not clear when the bill would be taken up for debate. Though Telangana legislators want an immediate debate, their counterparts from Seemandhra are against it.
Tension continued in the assembly premises as Telugu Desam Party (TDP) legislators from Seemandhra were on a sit-in inside the chamber of Speaker Nadendla Manohar, protesting his action in tabling the bill.
The legislators from Telangana also staged a sit-in to demand an immediate debate.
Earlier, on the direction of the speaker, legislature secretary Raja Sadaram introduced the 65-page bill and read out the message from the president, asking the house to send it back with its views by Jan 23.
The legislators from Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) stood as a wall to fend off their counterparts from Seemandhra who were raising slogans opposing the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh.
The Telangana legislators including Deputy Chief Minister Damodar Rajanarasimha hailed the introduction of the bill. The ministers from the region thumped the desks. Amid the din, the speaker adjourned the house.
Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy, who is strongly opposing a break up of Andhra Pradesh, was not present in the house. The chief minister is reported to be unwell.
Similar scenes were seen in the legislative council where chairman A. Chakrapani tabled the bill. Holding placards, Seemandhra lawmakers raised slogans against Telangana.
Trouble broke out soon after the bill was tabled in both the houses.
Seemandhra members came out and tore off and set fire to copies of the bill. Taking offence to this, legislators from Telangana tried to prevent them.
The two sides nearly came to blows. Police had a tough time controlling the situation.
TDP leader D. Uma Maheswara Rao was the first to tear the papers. Angry over this, TRS legislator G. Kamlakar tried to advance towards them. The police intervened.
A few minutes later, the situation took an ugly turn when the two groups almost clashed.
The YSR Congress party's Seemandhra lawmakers, after tearing the copies of the bill, set them on fire.
Telangana legislators led by Congress leader and government chief whip G. Venkatramna Reddy rushed towards the media point to stop them.
The two sides tried to push each other. In the melee, YSR Congress legislator Srikant Reddy fell on the ground.
At the media point in the council premises, TDP leader from Seemandhra N. Rajakumari fell on the ground during the clash. She later lodged a complaint with the council chairman.
Taking a serious note of the incidents, the assembly speaker sought a report from senior police officials.
Legislators from the Telangana region cutting across party lines condemned the action of Seemandhra lawmakers.
TRS leader E. Rajender said the action of Seemandhra leaders was an insult to the people of Telangana and demanded their immediate apology.
Legislative affairs minister D. Sridhar Babu said the bill was tabled in accordance with the rules. The Congress, TRS, TDP, BJP and CPI leaders from Telangana urged the speaker to immediately allow debate on the bill.
Seemandhra lawmakers are demanding that a special session be called next month for the debate.
Those from YSR Congress are insisting that the house first pass a resolution to urge the central government to keep the state united.
Earlier, as soon as the house met, members from both the regions massed before the speaker's chair.
While Telangana legislators wanted the speaker to immediately table the bill, their counterparts from Seemandhra opposed it.
Amid the pandemonium, the speaker adjourned the house for an hour. When the house re-assembled, the speaker asked the legislature secretary to table the bill and read out the Dec 12 letter of the president.
(Posted on 16-12-2013)