UPA confusion over Telangana continues

UPA confusion over Telangana continues

With the proposal for a Rayala-Telangana state meeting stiff resistance from political circles, the Group of Ministers (GoM) on Tuesday evening once again failed to finalise not only its report but also a draft bill on the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh.

However, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reiterated that the UPA government was committed to the formation of a separate Telangana state.

An all-party meeting in the afternoon arrived at a consensus to bring a bill for the creation of Telangana and favoured extending the session to enable the tabling of the bill. The winter session will begin on Thursday and end on December 20. The all-party meeting proposed that the session be extended after a one-week break for Christmas.

As Tuesday's GoM meeting, the ninth and tipped to be the last, could not finalise their view on the contentious issue, doubts have been raised by a section whether the bill could be tabled in the upcoming session.

However, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath said it would be the government's endeavour to introduce the bill in the winter session.

Though the Telangana Bill does not figure on the government agenda for the session, several parties have demanded that it be passed in this session. "All parties have agreed on bringing the Telangana Bill in the winter session," said Kamal Nath.

However, the prime minister did not give any timeline for the introduction of the bill when he met reporters after the all-party meeting. "Our government is committed to the formation of Telangana and it will be our effort to make full use of the due process of law to ensure that Telangana does come about," Singh said.

The GoM is understood to have discussed providing special status to both states under Article 371-D of the Constitution besides looking into the proposal to include two districts of Rayalseema and form a “Rayala-Telangana” state. However, the GoM decided to defer a decision after a 90-minute meeting.

Sources said the GoM is expected to recommend that the draft Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill should be named Andhra Pradesh and Telangana Bill, avoiding an amendment to the Constitution but allowing both states to enjoy special status.

Later in the evening in Delhi, Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde and Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh met top officials, including National Security Adviser Shivsankar Menon and Home Secretary Anil Goswami.

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