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Telangana bill race

Hyderabad, Jan. 3: The Telangana bill could not be debated today in the Andhra Assembly amid a tug-of-war between statehood opponents and backers, the logjam coinciding with a renewed agitation against the split.

While Telangana MLAs of most parties were keen on the debate when the proceedings began at the start of the second leg of the winter session, their Seemandhra counterparts were against it, resorting to filibustering tactics.

Speaker Nadendla Manohar adjourned the House in a huff amid the din even as industry minister Geeta Reddy was replying during the question hour, said a senior Telangana minister who questioned the postponement.

Eventually, both the legislative Assembly and Council ended the day without transacting any business or debating the Telangana bill that must be sent back to the President by January 23.

The Telangana MLAs who wanted a discussion included those from the Congress, TRS, Telugu Desam, BJP and the CPI. The Seemandhra camp included legislators of the Congress, YSR Congress, Telugu Desam and the CPM.

Speaker Manohar, who hails from Seemandhra, justified his action, saying YSR Congress MLAs had rushed to his podium demanding a resolution for a united Andhra. “My job is to run the House in an orderly manner and ensure the President’s directive for a debate is followed on the AP Reorganisation Bill, 2013.”

On the streets, protests against the new state intensified again with a bandh in the 10 districts of Seemandhra called by the Samaikyandhra Parirakshana Samiti, a umbrella group supported by NGOs and parties like the YSR Congress, Desam and the Congress.

The six congress MPs from Seemandhra who had moved a no-confidence motion against the UPA government last month began a 48-hour protest here. Union minister Chiranjeevi visited them.

The Telangana camp too ramped up efforts to see the bill through. MLAs of all parties met at the home of veteran Congress MLA K. Jana Reddy to chalk out a plan to counter the resistance by Seemandhra MLAs, including chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy, to the bill. Their aim was to ensure the debate is held tomorrow.

The Congress was also grappling with the fallout of a resignation. Legislative affairs minister Sridhar Babu had quit the Kiran Reddy cabinet yesterday saying he was “fed up with the conspiracy of both the chief minister and the Speaker” in stalling the debate.