Prez clears T-Bill; PM steps in to end logjam

Prez clears T-Bill; PM steps in to end logjam

President Pranab Mukherjee on Monday gave his nod to the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill, paving the way for its introduction in Parliament.

The bill, approved by the Union Cabinet on Friday, was referred to the President for approval. He returned the bill to the Union Home Ministry on Monday after putting his signature.

 However, the bill will not come up in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday as the House secretariat has on Monday sought clarifications from the Law Ministry over whether or not it is a money bill.

The bill will have to be introduced in the Lok Sabha first if the Law Ministry opines that it is a money bill.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stepped in to end the logjam over the Telangana issue and invited top BJP leaders for a discussion over lunch on Wednesday. This is being seen as Singh’s attempt to get the opposition party on board for passing crucial bills on creation of Telangana and putting in place an effective anti-corruption infrastructure.

Singh invited L K Advani and Leaders of the Opposition in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley respectively, for lunch at his 7, Race Course Road residence on Wednesday.

He wanted to invite them on Monday, but the plan could not materialise as Advani was away in Gandhinagar, his constituency in Gujarat.

Though the agenda for the meeting was not known, a senior BJP leader said they would raise issues like Lokpal appointments, attempts to push anti-corruption legislations dear to Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and creation of Telangana.

The lunch diplomacy came as a last ditch effort by the UPA government since it might be difficult for them to push through the Telangana Bill in this session, ending February 21, without the support of the BJP. While the government intends to bring 32 amendments to the bill, which was rejected by the Andhra Pradesh Assembly, the BJP put some conditions for its support. The party argued that the residual state of Seemandhra should get enough infrastructure support to make a living of its own.

The prime minister’s rare structured interaction, that too when he wanted his government to be bailed out, had often been criticised by the opposition parties, said BJP sources. Last year, the prime minister had reached out to the BJP leaders to break ice after the opposition paralysed both Houses over missing coal scam files.

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