Hyderabad: The union government may be going ahead with tabling a bill in next month's winter session of parliament for carving out Telangana from Andhra Pradesh but leaders from the Seemandhra region are still hopeful that the state will remain united.
Even as the Group of Ministers (GoM) finalised its report on the mechanics of the bifurcation and a draft bill is likely to come up before the union cabinet next week, the leaders from Seemandhra (Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra) have not lost hope.
They believe the process will come to a halt and the bill may not be tabled during the Dec 5-20 winter session. They hope that President Pranab Mukherjee may not send the draft bill to the Andhra Pradesh assembly for its opinion or that the Supreme Court may intervene to put the process on hold. They claim that even if the court declines to intervene and the president refers the bill to the assembly for its opinion, it will not be passed in parliament.
Both the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and YSR Congress, besides Congress leaders from Seemandhra and leaders of government employees and other groups opposing the bifurcation, have already urged the president to stop the process on the ground that it is being gone through in an undemocratic and unconstitutional manner.
YSR Congress chief Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy is visiting the national and various state capitals to mobilize the support of different national and regional parties for keeping the state united. He has been trying to impress upon various parties that the government is setting a bad precedent by ignoring the state assembly and this route may be used in future for creating other states. Jaganmohan Reddy argues that the centre can't divide a state without a resolution being passed by its assembly.
Both Jaganmohan Reddy and TDP chief N. Chandrababu Naidu have written to the president, drawing his attention to the manner in which the centrral government is going ahead with the bifurcation idea. Both have accused the Congress of trying to split Andhra Pradesh for narrow political gains.
Seemandhra leaders are hopeful that parties like the AIADMK, the Janta Dal-United, the Biju Janta Dal and the Samajwadi Party will oppose the Telangana bill. They feel that even the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) may not support the bill, notwithstanding its repeated assertions that it stands for a separate Telangana state. BJP leaders have repeatedly criticised the Congress party for the manner in which it handled the bifurcation issue and have stressed the need to address the concerns of Seemandhra.
"If you see the developments during the last few days, there are no chances of the bill being passed in parliament," said P. Ashok Babu, leader of government employees from Seemandhra.
While Congress leaders from Telangana are confident that the bill will be passed in parliament, their counterparts from Seemandhra, including Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy and state Congress chief Botsa Satyanarayana, are keen to see the process is stalled. While the chief minister is openly speaking out against the leadership's decision on almost daily basis, Botsa Satyanarayana has gone on record that they would ensure the draft bill is defeated in the state assembly.
With the GoM reportedly rejecting their demand for union territory status for Hyderabad, the central ministers from Telangana will be voting against the Telangana bill in parliament. "If our demand for union territory status for Hyderabad is conceded, we will support the bill in parliament," said union Minister of State for Finance J.D. Seelam.
The central ministers, in their last-ditch effort to stop the bifurcation, have met the GoM members in the last couple of days. When the ministers reportedly conveyed to them that the decision to carve out Telangana state is irreversible, they sought union territory status for Hyderabad and demanded that the concerns of the people of Seemandhra be addressed.
Telangana leaders have already made it clear that union territory status for Hyderabad is unacceptable. The GoM has reportedly suggested a mechanism to ensure that Hyderabad serves as a common capital of the two states for 10 years. In an attempt to address the concerns of the people of Seemandhra living in Hyderabad, the GoM has recommended that the centre keep law and order and some other subjects with itself. Under the proposed mechanism, the Telangana government will have no power to take back land in Hyderabad already allotted to individuals or companies from Seemandhra.