Amid pandemonium and a television blackout of the proceedings, the Lok Sabha Tuesday passed a bill to carve out a Telangana state out of Andhra Pradesh, triggering joy in the Telangana region and protests elsewhere in the southern state.
The Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill was passed by voice vote in the face of noisy protests by MPs from Seemandhra – as the other two regions (Rayalseema and coastal Andhra) are collectively known – as well as a section of the opposition parties.
The passage of the bill, moved by Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, took a total of 90 minutes.
If the bill also gets the approval of Rajya Sabha, the Telugu-speaking people will have two states with Telangana becoming India’s 29th state.
Telangana will have 10 districts including Hyderabad, which will serve as a common capital for a period not exceeding 10 years. The residuary state of Andhra Pradesh will have 13 districts.
In a move to assure protection to Seemandhra people living in Hyderabad, the bill proposed that common governor of the two states will have power of maintaining law and order in the city, but ignored the demand from Seemandhra leaders that the city be declared a union territory.
The bill, when passed by Rajya Sabha, will bring curtains on Andhra Pradesh, which came into existence in 1956 with the merger of Telangana, then known as Hyderabad State with Andhra State, which was earlier carved out of Madras State.
With an area of 1.14 lakh square kim and a population of 3.52 crore, Telangana will be 12th largest state in terms of both area and population.
The bill was passed amid dramatic scenes. Those opposing the bill massed near Speaker Meira Kumar, some shouting slogans and others holding placards. But they were simply ignored as amendments to the bills were taken up and then the bill was finally declared passed by the lower house.
So high were the tempers in the house that a group of Congress members from Andhra Pradesh stood near Shinde as he read out the clauses in a bid to protect him from anti-Telangana MPs.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi watched the proceedings with visible dismay. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was not present.
Participating in the debate, Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj said her BJP supported the creation of Telangana but not the way it was being done.
‘I and my party support the bill…Telangana should be formed…We rise to prove our credibility and to see wishes of youth of Telangana are fulfilled,’ she said, accusing the Congress of delaying the process.
Science and Technology Minister S. Jaipal Reddy said the demand for separate Telangana was raised for last 60 years.
‘I don’t think any demand has been raised for such a long period with such an intense feeling,’ he said.
The passage of the bill and the manner in which it was done came under severe criticism from various parties.
A fuming Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy, leader of the YSR Congress which is bitterly against the creation of Telangana, dubbed it ‘a black day’ for the country and called a general strike in Andhra Pradesh Wednesday.
The reaction to the development was immediate with central minister D. Purandeswari reportedly sending her resignation to Sonia Gandhi.
Three Andhra Pradesh ministers from Seemandhra resigned in protest while Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy is all set to quit Wednesday. Pitani Satyanarayana, one of the ministers, said Kiran Reddy would submit his resignation Wednesday morning.
Central ministers from Seemandhra hit out at their own party-led government for passing the bill in ‘undemocratic’ manner.
‘It is totally undemocratic, immoral and unethical,’ said Textiles Minister K.S. Rao, who like other ministers from Seemandhra hope that the bill will be stalled in Rajya Sabha. Human Resource Development Minister M.M.Pallam Raju said the bill was passed against all democratic norms.
Another minister K. Chiranjeevi said after the meeting with Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi last night, they hoped that justice would be done to Seemandhra. He said the BJP also disappointed them.
Vijayawada MP L. Rajagopal, who had used pepper spray in Lok Sabha last week to protest tabling of the bill, announced that he is retiring from politics for failing to stop bifurcation.
Telangana erupted in joy Tuesday while protests broke out in Seemandhra. Telangana supporters in Hyderabad and nine other districts of the region burst firecrackers and distributed sweets.