New Delhi/Hyderabad, Dec 5
Clearing the decks for the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, the union cabinet Thursday approved the draft bill for carving out Telangana as the 29th state of India.
Setting aside speculations about Rayala-Telangana, the cabinet decided to carve out Telangana state comprising 10 districts of the region that includes Hyderabad.
Also rejecting the demand of leaders of Seemandhra (combined Rayalseema and coastal Andhra regions) for making Hyderabad a union territory, it stuck to the earlier decision that the city would be a common capital for 10 years.
The Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill will be sent to President Pranab Mukherjee Friday or Saturday with a request to make a reference to the state’s legislature under Article 3 of the Constitution, Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde told reporters after the three-hour long cabinet meet chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
He said the president would send the draft bill to the assembly with a stipulated time to consider it.
After the assembly sends back the bill to the president, it would come to the government and the same be brought before the cabinet again and a final bill would be tabled in parliament.
“We don’t know. The president will give time to the state legislature,” said Shinde when asked if the bill would come up during the winter session of the parliament which began Thursday. “We want the bill in the winter session,” he added.
The draft bill was approved after the Group of Ministers (GoM) constituted in October to look into various issues related to the bifurcation submitted its report. Shinde, who headed the GoM, said the draft bill was based on the GoM recommendations.
Reading out the highlights of the bill, the home minister said the governor of Telangana would have special responsibility for protection of lives and property of people of other regions living in Hyderabad. The central government will appoint two advisors to the governor.
The central government will also assist in developing a new capital for successor state of Andhra Pradesh comprising 13 district. An expert committee would be constituted in 45 days to identify the capital.
The GoM, which has 11 terms of reference, did not deviate from the Oct 3 decision of the cabinet to carve out Telangana state with 10 districts. The cabinet had taken the decision in accordance with a resolution passed by the Congress Working Committee (CWC) on July 30.
Shinde said the GoM met all stakeholders and political parties, received about 18,000 e-mails from people and discussed with secretaries of concerned departments, the chief minister and deputy chief minister of Andhra Pradesh and central ministers from both Telangana and Seemandhra.
The cabinet met after Congress core group held a meeting at the residence of the prime minister. Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Sushil Kumar Shinde, A. K. Antony, P. Chidambaram and Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel attended the meeting.
Seemandhra ministers met at Sambasiva Rao’s residence to discuss the strategy to be adopted by the ministers during the cabinet meeting.
Congress MP L. Rajagopal said the ministers felt that time had come for extreme step.
Ahead of the decision, police went on high alert in Andhra Pradesh Thursday.
An alert was sounded in Hyderabad and 13 districts of Seemandhra as the union cabinet began its meeting.
The GoM, which was seriously considering the proposal for Rayala-Telangana by merging two of the four districts of Rayalaseema with Telangana, reportedly dropped it after stiff opposition from both the sides.
Telangana observed a total shutdown Thursday to oppose the proposal.
Andhra Pradesh was formed on Nov 1, 1956 following merger of Andhra State with Telangana, then known as Hyderabad State. It was one of the first states formed on linguistic basis.
Telangana, a part of the erstwhile princely Hyderabad State, witnessed massive protests for separate statehood in 1969. More than 300 people were killed in police firing.
The movement was revived in 2000 with the floating of Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS).
Following widespread protests and indefinite hunger strike by TRS chief K. Chandrasekhara Rao, the central government on Dec 9, 2009 decided to carve out Telangana state but backed out after counter protests in Seemandhra.(IANS)