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BJP sets bill terms

New Delhi, Feb. 12: The BJP has assured Prime Minister Manmohan Singh it will help in the introduction and passage of the Telangana Bill in Lok Sabha on Thursday, but on certain conditions.

The government should put the House in order, prevent pandemonium and ensure that the bill’s passage is preceded by discussions and an opportunity to move amendments, BJP leaders told Manmohan and his senior cabinet colleagues at a luncheon meet today.

Voting should be possible, if needed, on amendments, the Prime Minister was told by the BJP team that included Opposition leaders Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj, BJP president Rajnath Singh and L.K Advani. Manmohan was joined by senior cabinet colleagues P. Chidambaram, Sushil Kumar Shinde and Kamal Nath.

Jaitley and Sushma reportedly stressed that while the BJP had directed its MPs to turn up in full strength, sit quietly and speak only when asked, it was “more incumbent” on the Congress to ensure its Andhra Pradesh ministers and MPs did not run amok when the bill is tabled.

Sources said they had told Manmohan that some Congress ministers were “uncontrollable”. “When you are unable to carry your own party’s MPs along, how can you expect the others to work with you?” Sushma was quoted as saying.

At this, sources said, Chidambaram and Nath argued that the Congress had done everything possible to “set the House in order”, expelling six party MPs. “It was a painful decision,” Nath, the parliamentary affairs minister, reportedly said.

The BJP indicated that it was against naming members but added it had left it to Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar to use marshals to evict “recalcitrant” members.

BJP allies Shiv Sena and the Akali Dal oppose Telangana. Telugu Desam Party chief N Chandrababu Naidu has lately met their leaders to drum up support for a united Andhra.