The mess over Telangana continues – Andhra assembly rejects Bill …

The mess over Telangana continues. The proposal for the creation of Telangana has been on for several years now, and the Congress approvals for the entire process has been confused right from the beginning. In the beginning, soon after the fast by its leading proponent, the Congress Government gave in-principle approval for the formation of the state of Telangana, but it was soon clear that the decision was a hurried one, and the Government then decided to back off, since there was a lot of protests from either side, no matter what the Government did. The Government decided to buy time, and setup a committee to look into the entire matter, and the committee did report back after many months, but instead of making a specific recommendation, the committee came up with a list of options, pushing the decision making back to the Government.
This entire discussion has been going on and on, although the legal process is fairly simple (here is a quick summary, although the actual details can be more detailed). There needs to be a Bill brought before the Cabinet that brings out the decision to create a separate state, which then needs to be passed by the Cabinet, and sent to the President. The President in turn sends this Bill to the concerned state legislature (the legislature of the state from where the new state is supposed to be hived off), where the state legislature discusses the Bill and it then comes back to Parliament for discussion. If Parliament passes this Bill, then the new state will be created. There are 2 interesting points in all this –
1. It really does not matter whether the state legislature passes or declines this Bill, since the approval by the state is optional. This one is particularly interesting, since in the current case, due to the polarized environment, the state legislature has declined the Bill.
2. The Bill passing by Parliament needs to happen during the term of the current Lok Sabha, which is interesting since it means that there is only one session remaining of Parliament where this Bill can be passed, before the elections and the creation of a new Lok Sabha term.

The entire passing of the Telangana Bill now depends on the next session of Parliament to pass the Bill. The next session of Parliament is likely to be as stormy as the last few ones, because of multiple issues. The impending elections means that the fight between the BJP and the Congress will be hard and bitter, and this will extend to the Parliament session. Equally strong will be the battle between the Telangana and united Andhra members, and since this is also a battle of publicity, you can also expect every MP from Andhra Pradesh to be a part of this battle. Further, with the defeat of the Bill in the Andhra assembly, the Congress Government will need the support of the BJP to pass this Bill, since there are many smaller parties which are not making their stand clear on this, and with the timeline for the next elections to be short, the need of parties to support the stand of the Congress is no longer essential (especially since for now, it seems that the Congress is likely to lose).
If there is anyone who has messed up, it is the Congress. In the past, there has been division of states (the one in Bihar comes to mind, where the new state of Jharkand was getting most of the mineral wealth leaving Bihar poorer off in terms of resources), but never has the process been so mis-managed. Even a simple matter such as ensuring that there is enough time to Parliament to pass the Bill seems to have not been timed well, given that there was no need to delay this till the last sitting of Parliament. And of course, the motives of the Congress in supporting this division is so apparent, that because of the strong presence of the YSR Congress, the Congress was not sure of getting Parliament seats from Andhra, so it decided to atleast angle for getting seats in the Telangana region by propagating the division. Even if you accept that a division was required, the amount of confusion with regard to sharing of resources, capital, water, etc, all lead to a high amount of conflict, and a number of these could have been discussed threadbare and then made public so that the division could have been more easily accepted.
It is also being speculated that the Congress has been giving a lot of leeway to the Congress Chief Minister, Kiran Reddy, since it knows that there is not much support for the Congress in the areas outside of Telangana and atleast the Chief Minister could try to mop up some support from the population by appearing to fight against his own party for its Telangana approval. After all, Congress Chief Ministers can be changed fairly easily, and for him to show the amount of dissent he is showing and not be evicted is incredible.

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