YSR Congress MP quits Lok Sabha; BJP puts govt. in the dock

The number of MPs from the Seemandhra region who have quit membership from both Houses protesting the creation of Telangana went up to 17 on Monday with the YSR Congress’s Mekapati Rajamohan Reddy (Nellore) faxing his resignation to the Lok Sabha Speaker.

Among the Lok Sabha members who have quit, eight are from the Congress and four belong to the Telugu Desam Party. As for the Rajya Sabha, one Congress member and three TDP MPs have put in their papers.

Meanwhile, at a meeting of nine Union Ministers from the region here in the evening, it was decided to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and submit to him the resolution passed by the Seemandhra legislators of the Congress in the Andhra Pradesh Assembly/Legislative Council. They met Congress general secretary in-charge of the State, Digvijay Singh, and gave him a copy.

The resolution passed on Saturday in Hyderabad by 17 Ministers and nearly 80 legislators wanted Andhra Pradesh to remain united and demanded that the AICC reverse the Congress Working Committee’s decision to divide the State.

Another group of Seemandhra MPs from the Congress met party president Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel here. It is said to have told him that the stir inside and outside Parliament will not be called off unless the party/government withdraws the Telangana announcement. Earlier in the day, the members staged a protest in the portico of Parliament.

Meanwhile, the BJP appears to have succeeded in putting the government in a quandary, extracting a statement from Finance Minister P. Chidambaram that various issues on Telangana formation were yet to be considered by the Cabinet.

According to sources, it all began at a meeting of the Rajya Sabha floor leaders in the chamber of Chairman Hamid Ansari, with the BJP pinning down Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath on the question how the government intended to deal with the agitated Seemandhra MPs.

When Mr. Nath said the decision on Telangana formation was only that of the Congress and not that of the government, Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley immediately asked that the government make a statement to that effect in the House.

After dithering for a few moments, the Minister had to concede the demand, resulting in the statement by Mr. Chidambaram. Later, Mr. Jaitley told reporters that Mr. Chidambaram’s statement showed that the Congress had gone ahead with the announcement with an eye on the election though the government had not done its home work on creation of Telangana.

“The movement for Telangana has been one of the biggest mass movements in India in recent history. This movement has sustained itself for a long time. The government should have responded to it well in advance.”

He charged that the government had created a situation where two regions (Telangana and Seemandhra) were crossing swords with each other.

“Why could you not do it with much greater harmony?” Mr. Jaitley asked. The NDA government had formed three States — Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand — by first building consensus, he said.

The NDA held discussions with all stakeholders. The three States concerned — Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh — were asked to pass unanimous resolutions in their Assemblies.

After the States were formed, revenues were shared and river waters divided in no time. Even High Courts in the new States were created at a week’s notice, Mr. Jaitley said.