Friday, January 31, 2014

The Assembly rejects...

The following article was written for Niti Central. Pasting it here for reference.
Among other things, Article 3 of the Constitution says this:
“….The Bill has been referred by the President to the Legislature of that State for expressing its views.
Yesterday, the Andhra Pradesh Assembly Speaker announced the view of the Legislature – it rejects the Bill sent by the President recommending the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh. The Constitutional expert of our times, Digvijay Singh tells us that the Bill was sent only for comment, and not for being voted upon. And also the rejection of the Bill would have zero bearing on the Central Government. Will Digvijay Singh tell us how else would the legislature “express its views”? If the “views” of the Assembly are not needed, why bother seeking them?
The last one week has been another harrowing week for the people of the State. After getting one week of extension to send back its views, it was expected that important leaders in the House will get to speak on the issue. The Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy, in his speech, has derided his own high command and quoted the Union Home Secretary’s letter stating that this was a draft Bill and therefore, the additional information that members sought will not be given. It is the Chief Minister’s argument that the Bill referred to the Assembly must be in the same format if it were to be presented in Parliament. Members wanted to know specific time frames within which the promised educational institutions will be built; the specific time frame within which industries will be built; specific amounts that will be given to the new States. They objected to the phrase, “subject to feasibility”. One Union Minister told us that “subject to feasibility” is Government’s way of saying no to a project! Also, members insisted for a Statement of Objective; Financial Memorandum; views of various Ministries etc.
Most of these points will have to be mentioned in the Bill when presented to Parliament – why should these points be excluded when presenting them to the Assembly? With this principal argument – the CM gave a notice to the Speaker asking him to resolve that this is a defective Bill and therefore, the Andhra Pradesh Legislature rejects it. In fact, the Chief Minister has dared the Central Government to present this exact same Bill in Parliament and see they can pass it. He said that he will quit politics if the Centre manages to do so. Suddenly sections of the English TV woke up, and started interviewing the Chief Minister – will you form a new party; will you quit politics etc. The Chief Minister knew that there is no way the UPA Government can introduce the Bill in Parliament in its present form – and hence the challenge. Unnecessary hype was created around this statement, and the focal points were given a go-by.  Digvijay Singh last night on NDTV said, “We don’t have the numbers to pass this Bill. We will rely on the BJP to pass this Bill”.  Why doesn’t the Congress first get its house in order, before starting to already put the onus and blame on the BJP.
Is it Digvijay Singh’s contention that the Congress took the decision to bifurcate Telangana merely because BJP is okay with it? The BJP has indicated that it is averse to supporting a Bill – which is this disastrous in nature. It is very important to consider this nuance.It is entirely possible that individuals/parties can be pro-bifurcation and be against this particular Bill.  This particular Bill does not in anyway allay the fears of the people of the State. The staunchest votary of bifurcation – the TRS – has said on record that they are strongly opposed to a common capital, common Governor, common exam etc. Will it be fair to construe that the TRS is against bifurcation then? This kind of “either you are for or against bifurcation” discourse is harming us a lot. If the bifurcation is inevitable, it has to be done in an amicable atmosphere and not amidst such acrimony.
To get a feel of the acrimony involved in the state now, take a look at the image below.
United Andhra's tight slap to Congress

This is a TV grab that shows the exact moment when the Speaker announced that the Assembly rejects the Bill sent by the President. Almost every MP was in the well of the House. One TDP Member had to hold back one TRS Member from jumping to the Speaker’s podium so that he can tear the resolution! It is over to Parliament now, and for the Bill to be passed – either it has to be done through a voice vote whilst 15 Members stand in the well and protest, or those favouring Seemandhra have to be suspended. Ministers of the Central Cabinet will stand up and talk against the Bill. Members of the ruling party will standup and talk against the Bill. And yet, the Congress is putting the onus on the BJP in getting this Bill passed.

The Assembly will send in its entire view in about three days. The Group of Ministers (GoM) is again meeting on the February 4 to consider “minor amendments” – this essentially means the some 9072 amendments that the Assembly is sending will not be considered by the GoM. According to procedure, the views of the Law Ministry will have to be sought on the views of the Assembly. Given the tight schedules, it is fair enough to assume that all this will be given a go-by. Telangana is not yet listed on the agenda of Parliament. It is scheduled to meet from February 5 to February 21. The coming 21 days are very crucial for Andhra Pradesh. The Centre has a lot of documents to prepare and a lot of ground to cover before introducing the Bill in Parliament. Going by indications, it looks like the preparations have started. If the Bill that comes in Parliament is passed, it will only be amidst unprecedented acrimony. We now wait for the GoM meeting on the February 4 to get more clarity on when this Bill will be presented.
(PS: I wrote an article explaining why the bill is defective. Please read more to understand the poor homework Congress does.) 


Unknown said...

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