The following article was written for Niti Central. Pasting it here for reference.
While most of the media was busy on January 17 focussing on Rahul Gandhi’s ‘coming of age’ speech, some local newspapers in Andhra Pradesh highlighted things which occurred at the AICC meet – representatives from all States (including those in which Congress has not been in power for more than two decades) were invited to speak. The only State that did not get any representative to speak on that day was the State that sent the maximum number of MPs so that Sonia Gandhi can rule – Andhra Pradesh. This exemplifies the level of importance AP is given by Sonia Gandhi.
The Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister did not attend this meet but chose to attend the Assembly instead. There are strong rumours floating around that the Chief Minister will announce a new party once the debate in the Assembly is over. This does not seem plausible because Kirankumar Reddy has sworn to stop the bifurcation – if necessary by even resigning. For this, he will have to resign first, otherwise it will remain a hogwash. The CM hasn’t indicated yet if he is going to resign or not. Merely floating a new party will not stop bifurcation.
Meanwhile, he has written to the President Pranab Mukherjee asking for an extension of the deadline for the Assembly discussion. After nearly five days of disruption, the House took up the debate on the Bill. Members are making long speeches by suggesting various options. A whopping total of 9000 Amendments were submitted to the Speaker. Many of them are insisting on voting on each clause! Imagine the nightmare!
Congress Ministers, on the floor of the House, have called this Bill as undemocratic and unconstitutional. That is the kind of divide and hatred that Sonia Gandhi has given rise to. The YSRCP, which pompously declared that it will not allow for any discussion on the Bill for it amounts to agreeing to bifurcation, mellowed down and is now participating in the debate. Their only caveat is that the member will walk in when his name is called, speak and then walk out!
There is a nuance that is being missed in the din of TV discussions. There are some serious objections on certain clauses by pro-Telangana parties too. The BJP has again recently reiterated its support for the bifurcation but it also said that the current Bill is not comprehensive in any sense. Venkaiah Naidu has announced that the BJP will propose amendments to the Bill once it reaches Parliament. Media, as usual have started giving a spin saying that the BJP is revisiting its stand! This has always been Congress’s USP – bring in a bad Bill, and then blame the BJP for not supporting it. This happened during Lokpal, nuclear Bill, Caste census etc. And now, when parties are saying that certain clauses are not acceptable, Congress will want to turn the tables! Or is this the Congress game plan? Bring in such a bad Bill that no one will be happy about; ensure it does not pass in Parliament; then go to people saying they wanted to give Telangana, but others did not agree?
Strangely, even before AP CM made the official request, PTI informed us through ‘sources’ that the President is willing to extend the deadline by 10 days if requested. Assuming we get 10 days instead of 30 days that the CM asked for, we have deadline till February 3 before the Assembly sends in its recommendation. If at all voting happens, then the recommendation of the Assembly will be that the State should not be split!
Parliament is scheduled to meet for about 10 days starting February 5. The Centre needs to submit a much more comprehensive Bill in Parliament, than this copy-paste version. Assuming that this will at least take 10 days, the Bill might come into Parliament only in the fag end of the Session. Assuming no disruption, Parliament will have to discuss this at least for two to three days. However, Members from Seemandhra will definitely disrupt the Session, so, it is left to be seen how Sonia Gandhi will handle the whole situation in Parliament!
Nearly six months have passed since the Congress Working Committee (CWC) announcement has been made – and we are still speculating on whether the Bill will even be discussed and passed in Parliament! That is the level of uncertainty prevalent currently. As cliche, as it might sound – we still do not have any clarity on how this whole process will end.