BJP says statute amendment required on Governor’s powers

The Bill for the creation of Telangana, approved by the Lok Sabha on Tuesday, hit an unexpected roadblock in the Rajya Sabha with the BJP insisting that without a simultaneous Constitutional amendment, the validity of the Bill could be challenged in a court of law.

The BJP stance forced the government not to introduce the Bill in the Rajya Sabha even as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and several UPA ministers were busy holding consultations with BJP leaders to convince them that there was no need for a Constitutional amendment to create Telangana.

At the centre of the controversy is the interpretation on the special powers conferred on the Governor on issues related to law and order in Hyderabad, which would be the joint capital of both the successor States for a maximum of 10 years.

The BJP’s case is that special powers given to the Governor under the proposed Act are in contravention of the provisions of the Constitution as law and order is a State subject.

Though the government chose not to introduce the Bill in the Upper House, it was the cause for several disruptions on Wednesday. There was high drama in the Rajya Sabha with Telugu Desam Party member C.M. Ramesh pushing Secretary General Shumsher K. Sheriff in the morning hours, leading to immediate adjournment. The member later apologised and was let off without any action.

Besides a Constitutional amendment, the BJP also wants a special package for Seemandhra. After the Lok Sabha approved the Bill on Tuesday with the support of the BJP, Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj, while expressing unhappiness over the manner in which it was handled in the Lok Sabha, had announced that her party would move some amendments when it comes up in the Rajya Sabha. Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who wants the Rajya Sabha to pass the Bill on Thursday, responded to the BJP’s demand by requesting the Prime Minister to give Seemandhra special category status.