UPA seeks BJP help to pass T-Bill

 Having failed to table the Telangana Bill in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday that leaves only two days for the extended winter session to get over, a desperate UPA government reached out to the BJP persuading them not to press for any amendments in the legislation that would push it back to the Lower House for its nod.

The UPA government’s reluctance stems from the fear that if the amendments are accepted in the Rajya Sabha, the bill will have to go back to the Lower House for its nod on the changes made. And 16 suspended AP MPs will scuttle again its passage from the Lok Sabha as they are joining the House on Friday.   

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his cabinet colleagues including Sushilkumar Shinde, engaged Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley and M Venkiah Naidu at lengthy afternoon meeting held in Parliament house but failed to arrive at an agreement.
Realising the mistake committed in the Lower House for giving help without any precondition, the BJP made it clear to the government that they would seek amendments to T-bill, including seeking substantial financial package for the Seemandhra region and constitutional alteration to empower governor for handling law and order situation in Hyderabad.

Rajya Sabha leader of opposition Arun Jaitley flagged legal concerns on the present bill which provides for a common capital of Hyderabad for the two states post AP bifurcation with the governor handling law and order, which in the Constitution's Seventh Schedule comes under the state list. The governor always acts only the advice of the state government and not on its own, said BJP sources.

While the government has accepted in principle the need for the changes suggested by the BJP during the meeting, said opposition party sources, it told them not to seek these amendments during the debate in the Rajya Sabha.

Government sources said that a ray of hope has emerged since the BJP has sought a written assurance on some of points of agreement between the two. However, the government has made it clear that it would be difficult to accept the BJP’s suggestion on constitutional amendment for empowering the governor for law and order duty as they need more than simple majority in the Lok Sabha to get it passed. Many parties – such as the SP, TMC and the CPI – are opposed to the division of the AP, leaving the UPA to an uncomfortable parliamentary situation.

The Congress appears to mollify Seemandhra sentiments as it wants the government to come out with a special category status to the residual state of Andhra Pradesh for five years to meet its development needs.

“This exposes the double standards of the BJP. These are the same amendments put by another member in the Lok Sabha. The BJP did not support it then and within twenty-four hours they have changed their stand. This is for the first time, a political party has one stand in the Lok Sabha and another in the Rajya Sabha. If the BJP is opposed to Telangana, let them vote it out, ” Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath told reporters.
Venkiah Naidu said that by not seeking any amendment, the party has lost a chance to win eyeballs in Seemandhra region in the run up to the general elections, while the Congess consolidated its electoral strength in Telangana by offering them a new state despite chaos.

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