The following article has been written for Niti Central. Posting it here for reference.
At the risk of sounding repetitive, I want to re-iterate one point — nearly 115 days have passed since Sonia Gandhi gave her okay to split Andhra Pradesh and we still do not have a clarity on the process. This process was targeted to be completed within 180 days. One might argue that the GoM has been constituted to look into all the problems and one needs to have patience before they submit their report. Fair enough point — provided we know when the report will come out! Last week, news reports were abuzz with “sources” claiming that the GoM report will come out on November 21, Cabinet will okay it on the 22nd and will send it to the President. Andhra Pradesh Congress Chief tells us that Digvijay Singh told him that the AP Assembly will get the bill by this month end.
From the 18th to the 20th of this month, a few members of the GoM met with the Chief Minister, and Union Ministers from Andhra Pradesh separately. All of them made their oft-repeated arguments on why they support/oppose bifurcation. This is the report that the CM has apparently submitted to the President of India – in which it is explained in detail as to why a divided State will spell doom for all three regions of the State. News reports were abuzz that the GoM merely listened to what the CM had to say — it was as if they were merely completing a formality (few members of the GoM were even absent at this presentation). At that time, since rumours were abuzz that the report would be ready on the 21st, most of us wondered as to why the GoM is even bothering to meet these leaders so close to finalising their report.
On November 21, Shinde tells us that the GoM will again meet on the 27th! So there goes Digvijay Singh’s claim that the Assembly will get the Bill by the month’s end. Digvijay Singh has been on the forefront of lying and hoodwinking the people of AP. It is really unfortunate to note that this man has been at the centre of this whole process.
There are some more disturbing claims that are going around from ‘sources’. First, that the GoM will submit its report on 27th and the Cabinet will take it up and okay it on 28th itself.One Day! Just one day for the entire Cabinet (which includes members from Andhra Pradesh too) to read, understand, digest, discuss and debate such a serious issue! Next is the rumour that the Assembly will be given just 10 days to respond to the Bill. When three States were formed in the year 2000, their Assemblies were given 45 days to respond to this. Basic courtesy and respect towards precedents demand that the Andhra Pradesh Assembly too gets 45 days, so that members can present detailed observations supporting or opposing the Bill. I guess we are asking for too much from Sonia’s UPA?
There is a race against time to bring this Bill in the winter session of the Parliament. The winter session is scheduled to be held from December 5 to December 20. According to information that is available now, the earliest that the President can assent and send the Bill to the AP Assembly is November 30/December 1. Assuming that the center insists that the AP Assembly comes back within 10 days, the earliest that the Speaker can convene the Assembly is December 3/December 4. (There is a fight happening on this – Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister wants Speaker to prorgue the Assembly so that it will take a minimum of 10 days to reconvene it. He cites administrative needs for this request. Speaker is yet to respond, and the Telangana leaders are calling this as yet another trick being played by the CM!).
AP Assembly will atleast need to debate this issue for 3-4 days. Essentially, the members get a mere 3 days to prepare for the debate. The Assembly is bound to be vitroilic and perhaps severely disruptive. In all probability, there will be voting, and maybe the CM may resign on the floor of the house too, in an attempt to create a crisis. Is it prudent then, for the Parliament to take up this bill for discussion and passing? The law of course allows it, but what about the bad precedent this will set? Will all parties agree to this blatant transgression by the Congress party?
News leaks continue on a daily basis – on the status of Hyderabad; on the scope of a Rayala-Telangana State; on a massive package to Seemandhra; on a prominent role to the Governor; and what not. These reports only compound the confusion in the existing minds of the people. Yesterday MIM leader Owaisi met Sonia Gandhi and demanded that Hyderabad should not be made Union Territory. Making Hyderabad a Union Territory in the event of a split being inevitable is one of the primary demand of Congress Ministers from Seemandhra. Given Sonia’s penchant to give into demands from the minority, is it safe to assume that Hyderabad will not be made an UT?
The GoM is moving way too fast — seeding more doubts in the vulnerable minds of the people of Andhra Pradesh. Can we really trust them to resolve this highly emotional issue with the amicability that it really deserves? We really need enough time to understand the scope of the GoM’s report. We definitely do not deserve to be rushed through for the want of meeting an imaginary deadline – especially in this surcharged atmosphere. History tells us that we are expecting too much from Sonia’s UPA – but will she surprise us by sticking to established precedents atleast now? Perhaps we will get an answer on November 27.