A ministerial panel on Tuesday cleared the draft legislation for forming a Telangana state out of Andhra Pradesh, paving the way for its tabling in Parliament only a few days after the Andhra Pradesh legislature rejected the Bill.
“The GoM (group of ministers) has cleared the draft Telangana Bill. It will be placed before the Union cabinet in the next meeting. The Bill will (then) be tabled in Parliament,” health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, who is a member of the GoM, told reporters after a 30-minute meeting of the panel.
The Congress-party led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government now has the backing of its rival Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for bifurcating the state of 84 million people to grant statehood to the Telangana region.
The Bill’s passage, though, faces resistance from several political parties and even members of the ruling Congress party in Andhra Pradesh who are from coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema, collectively known as Seemandhra. The Telugu Desam Party is meeting various political parties, including senior leaders of the BJP L.K. Advani, its president Rajnath Singh and Sushma Swaraj, the leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha, to convince them not to support the Bill in Parliament.
The GoM, headed by home minister Sushilkumar Shinde, approved the Telangana Bill after some technical and procedural changes, reported quoting unnamed sources.
A special economic package with substantial additional funds for the construction of a new capital for the Seemandhra region will be a part of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganization Bill, it said.
In an all-party meeting called by Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar on Tuesday, Swaraj assured the government that her party would support all the Bills, including the Telangana and anti-graft legislation in the Parliament session that begins on Wednesday. The final session of the present Parliament will end on 21 February.
“I sincerely hope that after a long debate spreading over many years, the House will in its wisdom will be able to transact the business and pass the Bill,” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said after the all-party meeting.
“We have assured BJP will not disrupt the session. We want the Parliament to function. BJP members will remain silent and not disrupt the session,” Swaraj said after the meeting, before adding, “The problem is that Congress leadership is divided on the issue. The Bill was not passed in the Andhra Pradesh assembly where Congress is in power.”
Swaraj said the BJP will also support all the anti-graft Bills the government has proposed but it must explain why it didn’t bring draft laws earlier in the five years it was in power.