GoM clears draft Telangana Bill to be considered by Cabinet; PM hopes it will be passed

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New Delhi: Notwithstanding Andhra Pradesh Assembly’s rejection of Telangana bill, a Group of Ministers today cleared the draft legislation to be placed before the Union Cabinet on Thursday to pave the way for its tabling in Parliament.

“The GoM has cleared the draft Telangana Bill. It will be placed before the Union Cabinet in the next meeting. The Bill will be tabled in Parliament,” Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, who is a member of the GoM, told reporters here after a 30-minute meeting of the ministerial panel.

Highly-placed sources said the GoM, headed by Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, has approved the Bill after some technical and procedural changes. A comprehensive Bill will be brought before the Union Cabinet and suggestions will be incorporated after discussions in the Cabinet.

Following the Union Cabinet’s nod, the legislation will be sent to the President for his approval before being taken up by Parliament, probably next week. A special economic package with substantial additional funds for construction of a new capital for Seemandhra region will be part of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill.

The move comes days after the Andhra Pradesh Assembly rejected the Telangana Bill by voice vote, capping weeks of acrimonious drama and embarrassing Congress, which favoured creation of the separate state.

Experts are of the opinion that despite the Assembly’s rejection of the bill, Parliament can go ahead with its legislative process for creation of the new state.

Parliament session commences on Tuesday and is scheduled to conclude on February 21. This will be the last session before the tenure of the UPA-II comes to an end.

The Union Cabinet had on December 5 given the go-ahead for creation of a 10-district Telangana and outlined the blueprint for carving out the country’s 29th state. Telangana will comprise 10 districts and the rest of Andhra Pradesh will consist of 13 districts.

Hyderabad will remain the common capital for both the states for a period not exceeding 10 years.

Home Minister Shinde has already declared the Central government’s intention to table the Telangana bill in the coming session of Parliament. “We are clear in our mind that the Telangana bill will be brought in this session of Parliament. It is a commitment we have made,” Shinde had said.

However, a defiant Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy had accused the Centre of ‘deceiving’ the President by sending a bill which is not comprehensive.

“I challenge them to put the same bill, which they have referred to us, in Parliament. If it is accepted, I will quit politics,” Reddy had said.

This is apparently for the first time the central government is going ahead with bifurcation of a state despite the state Assembly rejecting the move. The Assemblies of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh had passed resolutions in favour of creation of Uttarakhand, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh some 14 years ago.

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