New Delhi, Feb 20: There was din, protests and chaos along with accusations of a “deal” between the Congress and the BJP, as the Rajya Sabha Thursday gave its approval to the bill for formation of Telangana.
Members for and against Telangana almost clashed as the bill was tabled in the upper house by Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde.
The bill was earlier set to be introduced in the upper house Wednesday, but could not be taken up as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress could not reach a consensus over amendments.
However, after a series of meetings, it was agreed that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would give an assurance for a package for the residual region of Andhra Pradesh.
The prime minister sat through the proceedings, with the home minister sitting next to him.
While protests were on since morning, as the home minister rose to table the bill, protesting members moved towards his seat to stop him.
A group of Congress ministers, including the pro-Telangana ones, moved swiftly and cordoned the seat, forcefully stopping the agitated members, and almost came to clashes.
The upper house saw as many as 11 adjournments through the day, as protests continued.
Joining protesting Telugu Desam Party (TDP) members Y.S. Chowdhary and C.M. Ramesh were a group of Trinamool Congress and Shiv Sena members who said the bill was “illegal” and “unconstitutional”.
Trinamool members continued to raise slogangs throughout the debate.
When the prime minister rose to read his statement assuring financial aid to the residual region of Andhra Pradesh, Trinamool members started tearing up copies of the bill and filled the area near the chairman’s podium with bits of paper.
A few Congress members were again seen coming forward to cordon the prime minister.
Communist Party of India-Marxist, which opposed the bill, alleged there was a tie-up between the Congress and the BJP over the bill.
Trinamool members went a step ahead and shouted “Congress-BJP bhai bhai” (Congress and BJP are brothers) as they protested.
K.V.P. Ramachandran Rao, the lone Congress MP protesting the bill, almost collapsed as he stood with a poster near the chairman’s podium.
He, however, insisted to stay throughout the proceedings and kept sitting in the area near the podium, even as several Congress leaders came and urged him to come to his seat.
Several uproars were witnessed, but the most prominent was when Assam MP from Bodoland Peoples Front, Biswajit Daimary, used the occassion for raising the demand for a separate Bodoland state from Assam.
Several members shouted “this is what is going to happen all across the country now”.
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati also mentioned the decision of the BSP-led government to divide Uttar Pradesh in four parts.
Several amendments were moved, but none were passed, and a few of them withdrawn after assurances and clarification from the government.
Interstingly, many of the clarifications came not from the home minister, but Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh, who has been a key player in the process of the bill and the parlays.
While marshals lined up, ready for any untoward incident, the Rajya Sabha did not witness the amount of ruckus as the lower house.
One MP quipped after the bill was passed: “It was not as bad as Lok Sabha.”