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Speaker foils Andhra CM’s plan

Hyderabad, Jan. 28: The Andhra Pradesh Speaker today saved the ruling Congress from further embarrassment by refusing to allow chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy’s resolution seeking the Telangana bill’s rejection.

Nadendla Manohar’s decision came in the middle of a second straight day of furore in the House over the resolution, which would not have been binding on the Centre even it was passed but would have undermined its moral ground to push the statehood bill in Parliament.

Manohar, who is from Seemandhra, had received requests to turn down the resolution from Telangana Congress ministers who had yesterday challenged the chief minister’s authority to move it without consulting them and threatened to seek his dismissal.

Today, they decided to drop the plan to meet the governor and press for Reddy’s ouster, citing the Speaker’s decision.

“Now that the chief minister’s resolution has been disallowed, there is no need for any such step,” said deputy chief minister D. Rajnarasimha, a Telangana leader leading the group that challenged Reddy over the resolution.

The tussle between the pro-Telangana and anti-statehood camps also appeared to have cast a shadow on next week’s Rajya Sabha polls. Two AICC secretaries are camping in Hyderabad to supervise the nominations and prevent possible sabotage by the Reddy camp.

Today, the chief minister had to sign the nomination of K.V.P. Ramachandra Rao, one of three Congress leaders renominated by the ruling party, in a symbolic gesture aimed at demonstrating his loyalty to the high command.

But the chief minister did not appear to have thrown in the towel yet in his efforts against Telangana’s formation. He is planning a dharna over the next few days, according to sources.

Reddy has written to the President seeking three more weeks for the Assembly to debate the Telangana bill. YSR Congress chief Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy, also opposed to the state’s split, has sent a similar request.

The Assembly has time till Thursday to send the statehood bill back with its opinion to the President before its likely introduction in Parliament’s February 5-18 session ahead of elections.

The Assembly was earlier supposed to send back the bill by January 23. It received an extension till January 30. Reddy’s letter for another extension — his third such request — is being viewed as a delaying ploy by statehood supporters.

In his latest letter, the chief minister has argued that there was not enough time for the 294-member Assembly to debate the bill. “Only 80 MLAs have spoken and the rest need at least three to four weeks to debate the crucial issue (which) affects farmers, youths, women and (government) employees,” Reddy has said in the letter.

The chief minister also reiterated a legal point he has been making over the past few weeks — that the statehood bill was a draft and, therefore, “not comprehensive”.

“In its present form, the bill is not comprehensive. A bill that has to be presented in Parliament should be comprehensive with details like statements of objects and reasons, financial memorandum and the statement of purpose.”

Reddy contested suggestions by his Congress colleague and Union minister Jairam Ramesh that “there can only be one bill, which is final”. “Let them read the Government of India rules,” the chief minister said.