House grouse, blackout as Telangana carved out

The contentious Telangana bill aimed at carving out a separate state from Andhra Pradesh, was passed in Lok Sabha on Tuesday amidst din, accompanied by seething protests from leaders hailing from the Seemandhra region. Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill 2014 was passed by voice vote and all amendments moved by MIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi and TMC leader Saugata Roy were negated.

During the debate, live telecast of parliament proceedings were abruptly cut off, television channels were shut and MPs representing the interests of Seemandhra, who were earlier suspended from the House, not allowed to participate in the proceeding.

On the blackout,  Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj tweeted: ‘They say that the black out of Lok Sabha was due to a ‘technical glitch’. No. It was a tactical glitch.’ Later in the evening, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar clarified it was due to a technical problem that this had happened and the proceedings could not be telecast live.

Starting the discussion on the bill, home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said the creation of Telangana would fulfill the democratic aspirations of the people of the region. He said the government had held wide consultations with cross sections of the society before drafting the bill. Shinde said the decision was not an easy one and made it clear that it was not being taken at the cost of one region. ‘Seemandhra will be given a special package post bifurcation,’ said Shinde.

Participating in the discussion, leader of opposition Sushma Swaraj said her party extended full support to the passage of the bill as it has been committed to it since beginning. However, she said the Congress could not convince its own members including central ministers and the state chief minister in dealing with the issue. She said Congress had promised Telangana in 2004 but initiated steps at the fag end of the last session of the current Lok Sabha. Swaraj said justice should be rendered to Seemandhra region. ‘There were problems with the way proceedings were conducted in the Lok Sabha today. The Congress is playing double game on the Telangana Bill,’ said the BJP leader.

TRS chief K Chandasekhar Rao and Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad were seen celebrating the decision. While slamming the government’s decision, TMC chief and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee said, ‘When a member asks for division of votes, they have to give it. Otherwise, it is illegal.’ She further likened the situation to emergency imposed by the Congress in 1975. ‘I am sorry to say it is more than emergency. This is devastating. We cannot destroy provisions of the Constitution. I have sent my party MPs to meet the President and tell him not to allow this to come up in Rajya Sabha,’ added Mamata.

Meanwhile, a Cabinet minister and three legislators of the ruling Congress party in Andhra Pradesh resigned in protest against the state’s bifurcation. Infrastructure minister G Srinivasa Rao resigned both from the cabinet and the party. He faxed his resignation letter to the governor ESL Narasimhan.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who was keen for the passage of the bill, had earlier deputed Shinde and rural development minister Jairam Ramesh to discuss the issues with the BJP on special package for the Seemandhra region.

The leaders of CPI (M) also joined the protest against creation of Telangana. YSR Congress chief Jaganmohan Reddy has called for a shut-down in Andhra Pradesh on Wednesday. ‘It is a black day in the history of India. We saw democracy being killed in broad daylight. The issue was taken up undemocratically against the will of the people of Andhra,’ said Reddy. Along with Seemandhra members and those of  parties like SP, TMC  and CPM raised slogans against state bifurcation. After the passage of the bill, the House was adjourned for the day.

Andhra CM to quit today

With Telangana Bill passed in Lok Sabha and the process of dividing the state set into motion, Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy is ready to quit office. On the other hand, the passage of the bill in Lok Sabha on Tuesday sparked celebrations across the ten districts of the region including Hyderabad.

Pro-integrationists denounced the move and seemed downcast as stage is now set for the creation of a separate state of Telangana once the Rajya Sabha also gives its nod. A defiant chief minister has invited his loyalist ministers and legislators for a meeting on Wednesday to formally communicate his decision to quit, according to state social welfare minister Pitani Satyanarayana.

‘The chief minister will address a press conference at 10.45 am and then proceed to Raj Bhavan to hand over his resignation to Governor ESL Narasimhan,’ the minister, one of the his close followers, said.

Security in Seemandhra region of Andhra Pradesh was beefed up and forces were put on alert to meet any eventuality on the law and order front.

Against any division: Mamata

New Delhi:
West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee has lambasted at the UPA government over the forcibly passage of Telangana bill in Lok Sabha. She said, ‘Our party is against any division. And the Telangana bill was passed by violating the constitutional norms.’ She added to pass such bill, the UPA should have called for an all-party meeting.

She questioned why vote was not taking into consideration while passing the bill in the Lok Sabha. She said the government passed the bill forcibly through muscle power. ‘To pass the bill they should consider the voting system. I heard that during the passage of the bill the speaker was asked to stop the live telecast, which we highly condemn. We are protesting the government move on this issue and have already sought an appointment with President Pranab Mukherjee to intervene,’ she said. The party has assigned its MP Mukul Roy to meet President over the issue, so that it can’t be passed in Rajya Sabha. Roy will tell President not to allow the bill come into Rajya Sabha.
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