Shettar seeks Centre’s help in speedy passage in Parliament

The Bharatiya Janata Party government’s demand for modifications in the Constitution amendment Bill to provide special status to the six Hyderabad Karnataka districts has been withdrawn, and Article 371 (J) will be in the same format as introduced in the monsoon session of Parliament.

After holding discussions with Union Ministers and MPs from the State in New Delhi on Tuesday, Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar told The Hindu: “I have since requested the Union Home Minister to help the State by passing the Bill tabled in the Parliament. We do not want to drag on the issue by seeking modifications.”

Mr. Shettar wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde on the issue.

It is common knowledge that the BJP in Karnataka has been having a running battle with Governor H.R. Bhardwaj (particularly during B.S. Yeddyurappa’s tenure at the helm) and wanted some changes in the provisions of Article 371 (J), which specifies an important role for the Governor in the administration of the Regional Development Board for the benefit of Hyderabad Karnataka. As per the provisions, the Governor will appoint members of the board and oversee development of the region.

The observations of the Chairman of the Standing Committee of Parliament (Home Affairs), M. Venkaiah Naidu, to bring changes in the Article 371 has thus failed to click.

While the standing committee favoured modifications in the Bill (based on a representation made to it by the State government), political calculations have been different.

Crucial timing

The amendment to Article 371 of the Constitution is coming at a time when Karnataka is heading for elections to the Legislative Assembly, and this has galvanised all political parties given that all of them have raised the issue while in power.

Interestingly, the BJP, the Congress and the Janata Dal (S) have had control over the region at one point or the other. Hence, placing hurdles to stall a quick amendment to Article 371 could cost the BJP dearly as it would have to face the wrath of the people from the north-eastern districts.

No resistance

With the Centre introducing the Bill in Parliament and with the BJP government here seeking the adoption of the Bill as much as the Congress, Article 371 (J) may soon see a smooth passage because a vote against the Bill seems unlikely.

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