Amid protests, Rajya Sabha debates Telangana bill

Amid protests, Rajya Sabha debates Telangana bill

Amid noisy scenes, the Rajya Sabha Thursday debated the bill to grant separate statehood to Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh. After repeated adjournments and protests by members from Seemandhra region, the house took up the bill for a threadbare discussion in the evening.

Seemandhra members belonging to the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) continued to raise slogans of 'Save Andhra Pradesh, Save Democracy' near the chairman's podium. K.V.P. Ramachandra Rao held a placard in his hands.

Rao collapsed during the debate. Deputy chairman P.J. Kurien asked the staff to take him to a hospital but the member continued his protest after squatting on the floor.Earlier, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde tabled the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill amidst protests.

Some members opposed to the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh walked towards Shinde in an effort to interrupt him but were stopped by MPs from the Congress and those favouring a separate Telangana state. Members from the Trinamool Congress, the Janata Dal-United and the Shiv Sena described the tabling of the bill as unconstitutional.

The bill was Tuesday passed by voice vote in Lok Sabha amid bedlam but could not be taken up in the Rajya Sabha Wednesday due to repeated interruptions. The bill was taken up in the upper house after an agreement was reached between the ruling and opposition parties, say Congress and BJP sources.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is likely to address the upper house and assure financial assistance to Seemandhra, as the Adnhra and Rayalseema regions are together called and would form the residual state.

The agreement was reached after hectic discussions and a series of meetings since Wednesday. Participating in the debate, BJP leaders M. Venkaiah Naidu and Prakash Javdekar mooted amendments seeking a financial package for Seemandhra.
They said while the BJP was for separate Telangana state, it also wanted justice done to Seemandhra. Tourism Minister K. Chiranjeevi suggested that Hyderabad be made a union territory at least for 10 years. 

He said the people of Seemandhra contributed to the development of Hyderabad in all sectors during last six decades. Chiranjeevi, while expressing his pain and anguish over the bifurcation of the state, blamed all political parties. 

"It's not fair to blame the Congress alone. It was the last party to take a decision to divide the state," he said. BSP leader Mayawati, while supporting the bill, demanded that financial package be announced both for Seemandhra and Telangana. 

The speeches of Mayawati and other members were interrupted by members of Trinamool Congress who raised slogans of 'Congress, BJP bhai bhai'. CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechuri opposed the bill while the CPI extended support. The DMK staged a walkout to protest the bifurcation.

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