Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Cong, BJP bend over backwards to make Telangana happen

New Delhi: With just four days left for the 15th Lok Sabha to end, Congress and BJP almost vied with each other to pass The Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill, 2014 through as voice in the middle of the din and Telangana, which was a burning issue pushed to the back-burner many time through the last decade, has at last become a reality.

Seemandhra MPs and ministers, members of the TMC and SP, CPI-M, DMK stood in the Well of Lok Sabha on Tuesday afternoon and chanted “We oppose, we oppose”. There were no ugly or unruly scenes when the Telangana Bill was introduced last week.

There was tension and apprehension in the air as the House was adjourned at 11 am, 12 pm, 12.45 pm before meeting finally at 3 pm and getting down to the difficult business of the seeing the bill through with its 37 official amendments and more than a score of unofficial amendments moved by Hyderabad-based Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM)’s Asaduddin Owaisi and TMC’s Saugata Roy.

It took 105 minutes to pass the Telangana bill, the most contentious political and constitutional issue in a long time, in the Lok Sabha.

The Congress had almost given up hope of pushing the bill through though attempts were on for the last two days. It became apparent that the Congress wanted to be seen as pushing the bill as much as it can and it was aware that it might not succeed. It almost seemed that the ruling party was making a half-hearted attempt. But Congress did not reveal its lukewarm approach. All the Congress members were present in the House, and party president Sonia Gandhi who was not present in the House in the morning turned up at 3 pm, and so did party vice president Rahul Gandhi.

As on the day of Interim Budget, several Congress MPs formed a cordon in front of Union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde as he rose to move the bill to be considered and passed, and he moved amendment after official amendment in the middle of unrelenting slogan-shouting of the Congress Seemandhra MPs and the TMC.

Leader of Opposition and senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj stunned the House when she got up to speak and declared in a loud and clear voice that her party is supporting the Telangana Bill because it was committed to the idea of the separate state, and that party leaders L.K.Advani, party president Rajnath Singh, former president Nitin Gadkari and the BJP’s stalwart from Seemandhra M. Venkaiah Naidu had time and again reiterated the promise. She said that her party’s support for Telangana was unambiguous and that she had informed parliamentary affairs minister Kamal Nath of the [arty’s willingness to support the bill, and how she assured that the BJP would be with the government even if it were to be a Constituional amendment bill. Like the Congress benches, the BJP too turned out in full strength and maintained a disciplined demeanour through the passage of the bill.

Swaraj said that the advise she had give to Telangana youth that they should not die but live to see Telangana at te height of Telangana agitation, and she said that her party was fulfilling it promise to the youth. She said that the Congress MPs will be crediting Sonia Gandhi as the benefactor but she asked them to remember the “chinnamma” (Little Mother) too for the making of Telangana.

Shinde in his opening statement had said that the demand for Telangana is a long standing one and that the government was responding to the demand of democratic aspirations of Telangana and he expressed the hope that the Telugu people of the two successor states should live in amity. But the Congress made its political point by fielding Union minister for science and technology and senior Telangana leader S. Jaipal Reddy. There was an expectation that Sonia Gandhi might make an intervention to cull the political credit for forming Telangana but she did not. Reddy gave the credit for Telangana fully to Sonia Gandhi, criticised the Seemandhra ministers for being in a political slumber for more than a year. He thanked Sushma Swaraj for supporting the bill in spite of L.K.ADvani’s reservations that the important bill is being passed without proper debate, trying to score a brownie point and driving a wedge in the BJP leadership.

Reddy in his emotional peroration assured that no person from Seemandhra living in Hyderabad will come to any harm and that he will defend their security till the last.

There were no unseemly, unruly scenes in the House as on the day the Telangana Bill was introduced last week when Seemandhra Congress MP Lagadapati Rajagopal had used as pepper spray. The Seemandhra MPs stood in the Well of the House and chanted “ We oppose, we oppose”.

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