Telangana bill: Pros and cons

By GS Vasu | ENS – HYDERABAD

Published: 24th October 2013 10:42 AM

Last Updated: 24th October 2013 10:42 AM

What are the chances of Telangana state bill being introduced in the winter session of Parliament? The answer will vary depending on to whom the question is posed.

Lawmakers of Andhra-Rayalaseema still seem to entertain the hope that the Centre will not be able to introduce the bill in winter session and even if it does, it will encounter some hurdle or the other. It is only 25:75 in favour of Telangana, according to them. The reverse is what leaders from the Telangana region believe — 75:25 in favour of the bill getting introduced and passed.

The first hope of the Andhra lawmakers is that the Centre will not have enough time to get the bill ready for introduction in Parliament. But, those working on it in Delhi disagree. Officials of the Home Ministry are said to be ready with the bill and would fine-tune it within a week after November 5, the deadline set by the Group of Ministers for receiving representations. Thereafter, it will be vetted by the Cabinet before being sent to the State Assembly through the President.

This would happen around November 20 and the draft bill is expected to be returned to the Centre well before the Parliament session begins on December 5. If everything goes as per plan, the bill is proposed to be introduced on December 9 , the day on which T state announcement was first made in 2009 only to be retracted later. “All that is required is clarity on the status of Hyderabad. Once the political decision on this aspect is made, the bill will accordingly be changed while the rest of it is more or less ready,” a source said. According to a Union Minister from Andhra, just as the Cabinet note was introduced without any hint to anyone, the bill too would be readied in time and could, perhaps, be the first to be tabled in the House. The second hope that leaders from Seemandhra entertain is that the BJP would save them by blocking the bill.

There are two/three ways in which they expect the saffron party to do this: a) propose amendments and thereby, make it tough for the UPA to get the bill through; b) abstain from the House when the bill comes up and allow MPs from Andhra-Rayalaseema to vote against; and c) whitewash the whole session on the Coalgate issue.

But, news emanating from the BJP camp is not encouraging for them. At quite a few brainstorming sessions that the BJP had over the past few weeks, the leadership made it clear that it would be difficult for it to change its position. Hours before the CWC resolution was made official, its Parliamentary party leader Sushma Swaraj, who was spoken to by the Prime Minister, welcomed the announcement. She reiterated it at a public rally at Mahbubnagar and insisted that the Congress bring the bill to the House in December. There are also indications that the BJP would not want to stall the House, whether on Coalgate or any other issue, until clarity emerges on the T bill.

Leaders of the Telangana movement, now worried over the Centre according concessions to Seemandhra on the status of Hyderabad, are sending feelers to the Central leadership of the Congress that such a move might provide an opportunity for parties like the TRS to move towards the BJP. However, Congressmen from Telangana are unlikely to oppose any proposal that Delhi makes to appease Seemandhra people.

In fact, even on the BJP side, almost every top leader including Narendra Modi, has been insisting that “justice” should be done to Seemandhra. Would the BJP really be in a position to oppose concessions on Hyderabad or special packages for Andhra-Rayalaseema is the question. Assuming it does and moves amendments and Muslim parties like the MIM also join chorus, it could only provide handle to the Centre to drop the concessions on Hyderabad, something that Congress president Sonia Gandhi is keen on – not allow any dilution of the stated party position on Telangana. This is precisely what she has been reportedly telling leaders from Andhra.

“In any case, we have lost Andhra. Don’t force me to make compromises on Telangana.”

Courtesy Indian Express