The business advisory committee (BAC) of the state Legislative Assembly on Tuesday decided to take up discussion on the draft Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill, 2013, from Wednesday.
Over a three-hour long meeting ended on a reconciliatory note after the committee, headed by Speaker N Manohar, pulled a balancing act between those who wanted the debate in the ongoing session itself and those who wanted it to reserve for a special session sometime next month.
The House will stay in session though it will have a long break starting with the weekend and later for Christmas holidays after debating the Bill for the first three days till Friday this week.
The Speaker, in consultation with the deputy Speaker and the state Legislative affairs minister, will take a call on the next schedule, including the number of working days required for the session, to ‘give all the members an opportunity to express their view on the Bill, clause-by-clause’, as insisted by chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy.
It may be recalled that the members of the Telangana region had demanded for a quick debate on the Bill to be able to send the state Legislature’s views before the end of December so that it reaches in time to the Centre for introducing the Bill in the ongoing winter session of the Parliament.
On the other hand, chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy, who took a public posture against the state bifurcation, insisted that a separate session of the Assembly could be held sometime next month as President himself had given an outer limit of January 23, 2014 for sending the views. Emotions rose after the Telangana members saw this as a delaying tactic giving way to angry protests against each other in the Assembly for the past couple of days.
“The House will discuss the Bill till Friday. The Speaker will decide on the next schedule of the session following the holidays that come in between,” said G Venkata Ramana Reddy, government chief Whip, soon after the meeting.
A marked change in the chief minister’s attitude towards the demands of the Telangana members was also noticed during this process. “For the first time, I saw the chief minister acting in line with the ground realities,” a senior minister in Reddy’s Cabinet told Business Standard even as the resistance to the state bifurcation within the ruling party appeared waning.
The six Seemandhra Congress MPs, who had recently given notices for moving a motion of no-confidence against their own UPA government protesting the state bifurcation, on Monday withdrew their notices.
The chief minister was absent yesterday when the Bill was tabled in the House. He was present in today’s BAC meeting for a brief period to insist on a single point that the members should get adequate opportunity to give their views on each clause of the Bill, while leaving the rest to the constitutional procedure, according to reports.
A CPM member, who attended the BAC meeting, said that the chief minister had not insisted on the division on the Bill in contrast to his earlier utterances that the Bill will be defeated on the floor of the Assembly.
However, no one was sure whether the members from parties like YSR Congress, which has boycotted the BAC meeting for not accepting its demand for introducing a resolution in favour of the status quo before taking up debate on the Bill, will allow the debate to continue.
“We doubt if the debate on the Bill will be conducted smoothly unless the Speaker takes a tough view on those members who try to obstruct the proceedings,” said Nagam Janardhan Reddy, who had recently joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
TDP senior leader M Narsimhulu, who belongs to Telangana, said by asking for more time, the leaders of coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions had been adopting delaying tactics to derail the process of passing the Telangana Bill.
“All of the 119 members of the Telangana region will give our opinion on the Bill through a single representation without even asking for time to speak on the floor of the House. Let the Seemandhra members take all the time to express their views on the same,” Narsimhulu said.
YSR Congress members said all that they asked in the BAC meeting was for a resolution in favour of keeping Andhra Pradesh united and would continue to insist. On the other hand, TDP leaders from Seemandhra, including its president N Chandra Babu Naidu, stayed away from making any comments on the BAC decision.