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Centre nod to Telangana with 10 districts

New Delhi, Dec. 5: The Union cabinet today cleared the bill to bifurcate Andhra Pradesh and create a Telangana state with 10 districts.

Hyderabad will be the joint capital, as suggested in the July declaration of the Congress Working Committee, sources said.

The Centre is trying to push for the passage of the statehood bill in Parliament during the current winter session, sources said. Before it comes to Parliament, the bill will go to the President who, in turn, will refer it to the Andhra Assembly.

In the Assembly, however, the Congress faces a tough test as even its own chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy has been opposed to the bifurcation.

Under the Constitution, the Assembly’s views are not binding on the Centre, which can go ahead and bring the bill to Parliament.

But such instances have been rare. “If the government does not consider the Assembly’s views, it will be a precedent. In all new states created earlier, there were never any adverse views from the legislative Assemblies,” a senior official said.

But sources pointed to another factor that could shape the Centre’s resolve to introduce the bill in Parliament this session: Sunday’s election results in five states.

If the Congress wins some and retains others, it could move aggressively, the sources said. If not, it could take a more cautious line, they added.

The new state will have 10 districts and not 12 as a group of ministers (GoM) examining statehood issues had suggested in its report submitted yesterday. It had proposed adding Kurnool and Ananthapur, in Rayalaseema, to Telangana.

The GoM, formed on October 3 and headed by Union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, had recommended their inclusion saying panchayats in the two districts had wished to join Telangana.

Sources within the government said the suggestion could have been made in the belief that it would help the Congress in at least two ways ahead of next year’s Assembly and general elections.

One, it could have shrunk the influence of Jaganmohan Reddy, the YSR Congress chief who enjoys lot of support in the two Rayalaseema districts, by putting the pockets in the new state. Two, it could have diluted the influence of statehood spearhead Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) by including in the new states areas where it does not have backers.

However, the plan sparked strong protests in both regions, forcing the government on the back foot. The TRS called a bandh in Telangana today, while Chandrababu Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party (TDP) railed against the plan in Seemandhra.

“GOM conveniently leaves gaps about territorial & geographical boundaries. Adding confusion to the hasty bifurcation process started by INC!” Naidu tweeted.

Bandh effect

The TRS bandh against the proposal to include Ananthapur and Kurnool was the first in five months on the statehood issue.

At Hyderabad’s Osmania University — a hub of the Telangana agitation — police lobbed tear gas shells to disperse stone-pelting students as they tried to march to the Assembly.

Students of an agricultural university threw tomatoes and eggs on the convoy of Jagan, who is opposed to Telangana, as he was on way home from the airport.

Jagan was returning from Chennai after meeting AIDMK and DMK leaders to seek support for his united Andhra campaign.