In an open defiance, Union Minister M.M. Pallam Raju on Wednesday questioned the government’s hurry to push the Telangana bill and said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s disapproval of disruptions in Parliament was not “fair”.
Mr. Raju, Minister for Human Resource Development, who hails from Seemandhra region, insisted that the bill for bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh is “absolute injustice” in the current form and it should not become a reality.
He justified the uproar created by his party colleagues from Seemandhra, including four ministers, who trooped into the Well of Lok Sabha disrupting the presentation of Interim Rail Budget, saying that it is expected of them to put up a “final battle” in Lok Sabha against the proposed division.
“I do not think the comment is fair just to isolate what is happening today. It has been happening in the House. Certainly, I think there has been a failing somewhere,” Mr. Raju said.
“It is not just today. It happened in 15th Lok Sabha and it has happened on multiple issues,” the minister said.
He was replying to a question about the disapproval by the Prime Minister and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath of four Union ministers from Seemandhra region storming the Well in Lok Sabha along with other members over the Telangana issue.
“My heart bleeds to see what is happening in the House. It is sad for democracy that such things are happening even after all appeals for calm,” the Prime Minister said soon after the ruckus in the Lower House.
Mr. Kamal Nath said it is unfortunate and will set a bad precedent for Lok Sabha in the future.
Defending his colleagues, Mr. Raju said the manner in which some issues have been handled has not been right and there is widespread perception that injustice is being done.
“And, therefore that public pressure translates on to the elected representatives and it is expected of us to put up a final battle in the House,” he said.
Mr. Raju said that the bill should not become a reality in its present form because justice is not being done to two of the badly affected regions -- Rayalseema and Seemandhra -- and questioned the hurry with which it is being brought in this session, suggesting that the matter can be taken up by the next Lok Sabha as well after the polls.
“There is absolute injustice in the current form of the bill. I hope that amendments will take place before it is introduced. There is no reason why it should be rushed in this Lok Sabha. It can always be taken up later.
“The process has begun. It is well on its way and I think it would be fair to rectify the defects and the shortcomings and then introduce it,” he said.
The Union minister’s comments are significant coming a day after the expulsions of six Seemandhra MPs from Congress.
The MPs had given a notice of no-confidence motion against the government opposing the decision on Telangana.
The MPs expelled by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi are Sabbam Hari, G V Harsha Kumar, V Arun Kumar, L Rajagopal, R Sambasiva Rao and A Sai Pratap.
The party has sought to give a strong message on the Telangana issue by taking this “unprecedented” step.
Sabbam Hari has threatened self-immolation in Lok Sabha if the government tabled the Telangana bill.
Another Congress MP Ananta Venkatrami Reddy, who is among the 12 party MPs from Seemandhra who did not sign the notice for no-confidence, said on Tuesday, “We are totally against the bill for the bifurcation of the state and will vote against it when it comes to the House. We will see that the bill is defeated.”
There are 25 MPs from the Seemandhra region including 18 from Congress, three from YSR Congress and four from TDP.
Maintaining other Congress MPs from Seemandhra are also opposing the bill, Mr. Reddy said, “But how can we put a no- confidence motion against our own government. One thing is clear that we are totally opposed to the Telangana bill.”
The issue of the separate state rocked both Houses of Parliament leading to several adjournments.
The government proposes to bring the Telangana bill in the current session despite a sharp division among political parties, including ruling Congress, over the issue.