MLAs stall T-Bill debate in House

Seemandhra Cong legislators stage dharna

As the Andhra Pradesh Assembly convened for the second phase of the winter session primarily to pass the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill-2013, protests erupted in all 13 districts of Seemandhra setting of fresh rounds of dharnas and political agitations against the move to create Telangana.

While Telangana legislators from the Congress, Telangana Rashtriya Samithi, Telugu Desam Party, Bharatiya Janata Party, Majlis-e-Iteehadul Muslimeen and the Communist Party of India favoured the debate, Seemandhra members from the YSRC, Congress, Telugu Desam Party and the CPM disrupted the day's proceedings.

In the end, members did not have a chance to debate the Bill and a frustrated Speaker Nadendla Manohar adjourned the House even as Industry Minister Geetha Reddy was answering a question during the zero hour.

Both the Assembly and Council adjourned without transacting any business. There was no discussion on the Bill that needs to be returned to the President by January 23. Buses were off the roads in Seemandhra districts. Banks, schools and even markets were closed in response to the bandh call given by Samaikyandhra Parirakshana Samiti supported by the AP Non-Gazetted Officers (APNGOs) and regional political outfits like the YSR Congress, TDP and the Congress.

Amid heavy bandobast, three Seemandhra Congress MPs – Lagadapati Rajagopal, Sabbam Hari and GV Harsha Kumar – sat in 36-hour “Sankalpa Deeksha” at the Dharna Chowk near Indira Park, protesting the manner in which the UPA government is trying to divide the state.

State ministers Ganta Srinivasa Rao, K Parthasarathi and Erasu Pratapa Reddy have expressed solidarity with the Deeksha.

The MPs want the legislators from Seemandhra to insist on the House passing a resolution urging the Centre to keep the state united.

After visiting the MPs  in Deeksha, Union Minister Chiranjeevi met the 18 Congress MLAs who were earlier with his Praja Rajyam Party at his Jubilee Hills residence.

The meeting assumes significance following reports that a large number of them, including Infrastructure Minister Ganta Srinivasa Rao, one of the legislators who joined the Congress from the PRP, are looking to join the TDP. It is said that the Congress will a total rout in Seemandhra in the 2014 elections.

“Chiranjeevi appealed to all of them to remain in the Congress, but we anticipate almost 10 out of 18 erstwhile PRP MLAs to join either the YSR Congress or the TDP,” said a senior Congress leader.

Meanwhile, Telangana MLAs from all parties  met at K Jana Reddy’s residence, to work on a plan to tackle Seemandhra legislators including chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy and TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu.

They plan to kick-start the debate on Saturday, with Deputy Speaker Bhatti Vikramarka  and Deputy Chief Minister Damodara Rajanarasimha leading the way.

Sridhar Babu, a minister in Kiran cabinet who quit on Thursday, said he was fed-up with the conspiratorial approach of the chief minister and the Speaker in installing the Telangana Bill debate.

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