Andhra legislature rocked by protests over Telangana bill

Hyderabad, Dec 13: Both houses of the Andhra Pradesh legislature were rocked by protests Friday as the legislators from Telangana, across party lines, demanded immediate debate on the bill for a separate state.

The state assembly and the legislative council were adjourned by the presiding officers as lawmakers from Telangana and Seemandhra (Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra regions) trooped into the wells of the two houses. Both houses were adjourned for half-hour.

With the central government sending Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill, 2013, by a special flight Thursday night, the lawmakers from Telangana demanded that the bill be taken up immediately for debate.

Utter pandemonium prevailed in the assembly even before Speaker Nadendla Manohar entered the house.

Legislators of all the parties, including those from the ruling Congress, beseiged the speaker’s podium and raised slogans.

Those from Telangana demanded “we want Telangana bill”, while the members from Seemandhra, opposing the bifurcation, countered them with slogans of “Jai samaikyandhra” or united Andhra.

The speaker rejected adjournment motion moved by Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) members for immediate discussion on the Telangana bill.

Legislators of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) wanted a debate on the attitude of the central and state governments in dividing the state. The YSR Congress party moved an adjournment motion for passing a resolution in the assembly to urge the centre to keep the state united.

After rejecting all adjournment motions, the speaker announced that he was adjourning the house for half an hour.

Similar scenes were witnessed in the legislative council. Chairman A. Chakrapani adjourned the house for half an hour as members from Telangana and Seemandhra resorted to slogan shouting.

The union home ministry Thursday night sent the bill to the assembly. A senior official brought the bill, flying in by a special aircraft.

President Pranab Mukherjee has given time till Jan 23 to the assembly to return the bill with its members’ comments.

The union cabinet Dec 5 approved the draft bill and sent it to the president with a request to refer it to the assembly under Article 3 of the Constitution.

The winter session of the assembly, which began Thursday, is scheduled to end Dec 20. The Business Advisory Committee (BAC) of the assembly will be meeting Friday evening amid demands by the legislators from Telangana that the session be extended for a debate on the bill, and their counterparts from Seemandhra are opposing this.

IANS