‘Provisions of Article 371 does not reflect resolutions adopted in Assembly’

Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Home Affairs M. Venkaiah Naidu has refuted the charge levelled by Karnataka Congress leaders that the committee has betrayed the people of the State by returning the draft Constitution Amendment Bill, which envisaged according special status to Hyderabad Karnataka, to the government.

At a news conference here, Mr. Naidu maintained that the unanimous view of the committee was that the Bill as proposed by the government does not reflect the thrust of the resolutions adopted by the Karnataka Legislative Assembly and Council.

“First, the Union government prepares a Bill without consulting the State government, and that too a Bill which is not on the lines suggested by the Assembly and the Council. And then the State Congress leaders accuse the Standing Committee on Home Affairs for betraying the people of Karnataka. This is bizarre logic,” Mr. Naidu said.

The senior BJP leader said that the Bill, as envisaged by the Union government, follows the Maharashtra model, while Karnataka Assembly and Council had sought a Bill on the model of Andhra Pradesh which accords special status to districts in the erstwhile Nizam province.

The Bill seeks to insert a new Article 371 J in the Constitution of India to provide a special provision to establish a separate development board for the erstwhile Hyderabad Karnataka region of the State of Karnataka, consisting of the districts of Gulbarga, Bidar, Raichur, Koppal, Yadgir and Bellary, to accelerate development, promote inclusive growth and provide for reservation in education and vocational training institutions for domiciles of the region.

Mr. Naidu said that if the Congress is really serious, a new version of the Constitution Amendment Bill on the lines of Article 371 (D), which pertains to special status to Andhra districts in the erstwhile Nizam province, should be prepared and get it passed by Parliament in the current session itself.

A precedent

The BJP leader said that there is a precedent of the Union government getting a Constitution Amendment to create a Legislative Council in Tamil Nadu approved and notified in a span of less than three weeks. “Where there is a will there is a way. The moot question is, does the Union government have the will?”

He said the Karnataka Congress leaders, instead of blaming the Standing Committee on Home Affairs, should talk to their central leaders and prevail on them to move quickly on the Bill.

Mr. Naidu said that a simple reading of the recommendation made by the Standing Committee on the Bill leaves no scope for ambiguity on the intent of the committee.

It reads, “The committee notes the considered opinion of the State government of Karnataka that they made repeated requests to the Union government to grant special status to Hyderabad Karnataka Region on the lines of special provisions made under Article 371D in respect of Andhra Pradesh.

“The committee further notes that both Houses of Karnataka legislature also unanimously passed resolutions to provide special status on the lines of only Article 371D of the Constitution of India. While agreeing with the views of State government of Karnataka, the committee feels that the Ministry of Home Affairs should have taken the State government into confidence about the provisions of the Bill before piloting it in the Parliament.

“In view of the opinion of the State government of Karnataka on the provisions of the present Bill, the Committee recommends that Ministry of Home Affairs may withdraw this Bill. Discussions with the State government of Karnataka may be held and a modified version of the Bill may be brought forward before the Parliament at the earliest.”

On Saturday, the Karnataka Congress committee vice-president Basavaraj Rayaraddi had said that the decision of the Parliamentary Committee on Home Affairs to return the Bill was a betrayal of the people of Karnataka.

He had claimed that there was no point in the argument that the Union government had not consulted the State government before deciding to amend the Constitution when the process started long ago and the State legislature, had in a resolution, urged the Centre to accord the status.

  • ‘Parliamentary Committee on Home Affairs has not betrayed people of Karnataka’

  • ‘Bill envisaged by Centre follows Maharashtra model, Karnataka Assembly sought AP model’