Bifurcation not possible without amendment to Constitution, avers CM

Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy’s assertion on Friday that bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh will not be possible without an amendment to the Constitution has brought the focus back to the debate on Article 371(D).

Mr. Reddy was quoted by Seemandhra Ministers and MLAs as saying that the draft of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill 2013, referred to the Assembly, mentioned the need for amending Article 371 (D), which mandates absolute majority in Parliament for its passage. It stirred up a hornets’ nest as leaders from the Seemandhra and Telangana regions drew their own inferences on the issue.

Seemandhra ministers claim that changes would be needed in the final Bill to address the concerns over Article 371 (D), which is intended to ensure equitable distribution of education and employment opportunities for backward regions, before it is brought before Parliament. The changes mandate a two-thirds majority in the House which the Congress is not in a position to mobilise, especially in the present political situation, say these ministers.

This is in sharp contrast to AICC general secretary Andhra Pradesh affairs in-charge Digvijaya Singh’s claim that the legal department of the Centre thoroughly examined the draft Bill before referring it to the President. Mr. Singh kicked off a controversy with his statement that there would be no voting on the draft Bill and that the Business Advisory Committee of the Legislature would take up the matter, probably on Monday.

The Telugu Desam Party lost no opportunity in giving notice of breach of privilege against him for “interfering” in the affairs of the Legislature. The notice alleged that Mr. Singh was trying to influence the Assembly proceedings with his claims on voting. This, the party claimed, was tantamount to dictating terms to the Legislature and insulting the members.

Seemandhra Congress leaders are firm that Mr. Kiran Reddy’s observations were not routine as he had taken the considered view of experts. “The amendment is a must and a majority of the members should vote in favour of the changes. More so, as Article 371 (D) is placed under VII Schedule, necessitating a two-thirds majority,” a Seemandhra Minister told The Hindu.

‘No confusion at Centre’

Telangana leaders, however, made light of the development claiming that there was no confusion at the Centre about the provisions of the draft Bill. Article 371 (D) had been incorporated to promote accelerated development of the backward areas. The Bill has form, legality and all other aspects in order, says senior leader K.R. Suresh Reddy.