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Storm clouds loom over AP House

Hyderabad, Dec. 11: The winter session of the Andhra Pradesh Assembly, expected to debate the state’s planned bifurcation, may end up as another spell of mudslinging among pro- and anti-Telangana lobbies, sources warned ahead of tomorrow’s likely high-voltage start.

Speaker Nadendla Manohar, who is monitoring preparations for the brief seven-day sitting, said the House might be reassembled later at short notice if the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill 2013 was not referred to him by the end of the session.

PTI reported that the bill had been sent to the home ministry by the President, possibly enroute to the Andhra Assembly.

Earlier in the day, senior Seemandhra minister T.G. Venkatesh said the Assembly agenda would “include routine state issues” if there was no Telangana bill. “A mood of division and disappointment has already set in,” he said.

Sources said the House might see frayed tempers over the Centre’s decision to divide the state, with or without the bill. Congress central leader Digvijaya Singh and two AICC secretaries R.C. Khuntia and S. Tirunavukkarasu will camp in Hyderabad from tomorrow for two days to supervise the happenings in the Assembly to ensure there is no open revolt by Seemandhra legislators.

State minister T.G. Venkatesh, however, said Digvijaya, general secretary in charge of Andhra affairs, should avoid visiting Hyderabad. “As several parts of the state are witnessing protests on the Samaikyandhra (united Andhra) issue, it is better if he avoids visiting Hyderabad, as it may not serve any purpose, given the situation,” Venkatesh said.

P. Ashok Babu, president of an organisation of government employees, called for a “Go back Digvijaya” agitation. “It’s a bad omen. Digvijaya, who is a big failure in his home state Madhya Pradesh, will be camping here to lure Congress MLAs into submission,” Ashok Babu said.

The Assembly session will begin against the backdrop of the notice six Andhra Congress MPs had moved for a no-confidence motion against the central government, resorting to the extreme measure to prevent the state from being bifurcated. “It will be a war of guns without bullets and bows without arrows,” said MLA K.T. Rama Rao of the 18-member Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS).

Although any “head count” in the Andhra House will not have any bearing on the Centre’s decision to divide the state, Congress chief minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy has openly challenged the Centre to get the bill passed in Parliament after the draft is “rejected” by the Assembly.

The Congress has 156 MLAs in the 294-member House, but the party’s Seemandhra legislators are against a division of the state.

As part of their campaign to stall the bifurcation, Reddy and leader of Opposition N. Chandrababu Naidu, whose Telugu Desam Party has 79 MLAs, have both written separate letters to the President to not deviate from the “traditional procedure of bifurcation” set by the erstwhile NDA government while creating new states like Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Uttarakhand.

The Assemblies of these three states had passed resolutions seeking bifurcation and forwarded the resolutions to the Centre to be placed before Parliament in the form of a reorganisation bill, which was later sent to the President. In Andhra’s case, the Union cabinet cleared a note on carving out a Telangana state and sent it to the President directly.

Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy’s YSRC, which has 18 MLAs, is also against bifurcation. Only the TRS, the BJP, which has three legislators, and the CPI (4 MLAs) are firmly for a Telangana state. The seven-member MIM is concerned only about Hyderabad, which, it says, should not be made a Union territory or even the common capital.