AP Assembly may extend beyond January 23

Debate on the draft Telangana Bill will resume in the Andhra Pradesh Assembly on Friday when the House reassembles after a week-long Sankranti festival break.

With reports suggesting that President Pranab Mukherjee may give ten more days to the Assembly to discuss the draft Andhra Pradesh Re-organisation Bill, 2013 and return it, the session may be extended by that many days beyond January 23 when it is originally scheduled to conclude.

However, the state government is yet to make a formal request to the President to extend the session for returning the draft Bill but official sources said a request could be sent to the Centre on January 20.

Thousands of “amendments” were proposed to all clauses of the draft Bill by legislators from coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions.

The Seemaandhra legislators primarily proposed “deletion” of Clause 1 that, according to the draft Bill, stands for enactment of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, in effect seeking to keep the state united.

The Telangana side too sought several changes in the draft Bill but termed them “views\suggestions.”

The Telangana MLAs predominantly opposed the clause 8 that seeks to vest decisive powers with the “common Governor” and clause 5 (1) that makes Hyderabad the “common capital” for a period not exceeding ten years.

The Telangana Congress suggested that Hyderabad may be made the common capital temporarily for a period not exceeding ten years or till completion of the new capital for residuary state, whichever is earlier.

The Telangana Rashtra Samiti wanted Hyderabad as common capital only for a period of three years. These amendments will now have to be put to vote, which is expected to take a lot of time.

The Telangana side, however, is opposed to voting on the clauses.

Though the draft Bill was tabled in the Assembly on December 16, actual debate on it could not begin till January 8 as Seemaandhra legislators belonging to Telugu Desam Party and YSR Congress stalled the proceedings, opposing the proposed state bifurcation process.

The TDP MLAs subsequently relented and started taking part in the debate after the government assured them of tabling all relevant information, related to various provisions in the draft Bill, in the House.

Though the government circulated a note on January 9 to the members, the TDP expressed serious displeasure saying it did not contain the information sought by it.

“We sought information on the assets and liabilities of the state but the government said the information was not available. We also wanted to know the income, both government and private, accrued from Hyderabad city but that was also not given,” TDP senior MLAs Dhulipalla Narendra Kumar, Payyavula Kesav and Devineni Umamaheswara Rao said.

The TDP also sought information relating to investments in the private sector in different regions of the state as also the irrigation water resources but got a “blank” answer from the government.

The YSR Congress, on the other hand, has been insisting that the House first take up voting on the draft Bill before the debate.

“We will not take part in the debate on the draft Bill but, as legislators, express our opinion. We are totally opposed to the proposed bifurcation of the state,” YSRC MLA Bhumana Karunakar Reddy said, after a strategy meeting with party chief Y. S. Jaganmohan Reddy, this afternoon.

Mr. Bhumana said they would again press for voting on the draft Bill tomorrow.

The YSRC legislators were suspended from the House for a day for blocking the debate while they walked out in protest the next day.