Andhra lawmakers clash as Telangana bill tabled in assembly
The bill to carve out separate Telangana state out of Andhra Pradesh was Monday tabled in both houses of the state legislature 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, was moved in the assembly as well as the legislative council amid strong protests by lawmakers from Seemandhra (Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra).
Though the bill in the assembly was tabled at 10 a.m and the speaker adjourned the house for half an hour, the house only re-assembled only at 3 p.m. as the clash between the two groups outside led to tension.
As the noisy scenes continued, Legislative Affairs Minister D. Sridhar Babu rose to urged the chair to initiate the debate and appealed to all parties to cooperate.
Slogan-shouting Seemandhra legislators tore the bill papers and threw on Deputy Speaker Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka, who was in the chair. He called Leader of Opposition N. Chandrababu Naidu to speak on the bill. As Naidu was not present in the house, he adjourned the house for the day.
Sridhar Babu later told reporters that Speaker N. Manohar could not chair the proceedings as Telugu Desam Party (TDP) legislators from Seemandhra staging a sit-in inside his chamber did not allow him to leave.
He claimed that the debate on the bill had already started. Even after the house was adjourned for the day, the TDP legislators were sitting inside to protest the "undemocratic" manner in which the bill was tabled. They plan to spend the night inside.
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.
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 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.
The Congress, TRS, TDP, Bharatiya Janata Party and Communist Party of India 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.
(Posted on 16-12-2013)