Thursday, January 16, 2014

Will it be a Happy New Year?

The following article was written for Niti Central. Pasting it here for reference. 

Normally, this is time to be wishing Happy New Year and hoping (sincerely) that the new year will bring cheer, happiness and fortune. However, bad or good the previous year is, one always hopes that the new year is better and prosperous.
Unfortunately, for the people of Andhra Pradesh, there is nothing to cheer and hope for a better fortune in the new year. The future looks the bleakest ever in recent times. The primary reason being is the massive bungling of the bifurcation issue by the Congress. We have written in detail about how Sonia Gandhi has bungled up the issue, throwing all norms to the winds with great impunity. The President of India is currently at his winter retreat in Hyderabad, and meeting representatives of all political parties, Government employees – practically, he is meeting every unit that has a stake in this bifurcation. While this act is laudable (given the closed door system followed by Sonia Gandhi), it still remains to see what impact, if any, will these meetings have on him when he gets to sign the Bill that goes to Parliament.
So why is the future uncertain and bleak?
Let us consider option 1 (the most rosiest scenario). The debate on the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill will commence on the January 3, 2014. The members will discuss in great detail each and every line of the B ill and make suggestions for changes. The Assembly will smoothly vote and incorporate all changes. The debate, however, will continue till January 23 and the Assembly will send it back to the President by January 26. Thereupon, Sonia Gandhi, through Sushilkumar Shinde, will ensure the Bill is introduced in the Budget Session (with or without incorporating the suggested changes). After a lacklustre debate in the Houses, the Bill will be passed. A new Telangana State will be formed by March 1, 2014.
This is the most rosiest scenario, but is definitely not the most plausible scenario. This is the reason why I keep saying that 2014 is going to be riddled with uncertainties. 
Now, let us consider option 2 (the most likely scenario, and this will also explain why option 1 will remain a dream): The debate on the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill will commence on January 3. YSRCP President, Jaganmohan Reddy has already announced that this party will not allow a debate to happen. He has threatened to disrupt the proceedings – his logic being that if the debate happens, the Central Government will not care about the recommendations of the Assembly. Instead, if no debate happens and no resolution is sent, the Centre will be in a Constitutional bind.
Keeping this in mind, there may not be any discussions till at least the January 6. If the Speaker decides to suspend these members, then another political storm will begin brewing. Assuming that the debate will begin on the January 7, every single political entity is strongly opposed to either the Bill or certain contents of the Bill. In fact, they are opposing it with good reason – with a common capital, common Governor, common High Court and a common entrance exam – even pro-Telangana parties are averse to having this particular version of the Bill being passed in Parliament! Afterall, why bother to split the State if everything is common for 10 years?!
On most clauses some members are strongly demanding for voting; and some are demanding that there should be no voting. Another conundrum that shows no sign of getting resolved. Will members allow for a smooth voting process? Will the Speaker be strict enough to ensure that the House is run smoothly? We don’t know. There are rumours that the Chief Minister, who has been a strong votary of an united State will resign on the floor of the Assembly to perpetuate a crisis. Will he do it? We don’t know. Basically, we don’t know in what form the Assembly will send the Bill back to the President! Irrespective of this, let’s assume that Sonia Gandhi and Sushilkumar Shinde will bring this Bill into Parliament. Both Rajnath Singh and Narendra Modi have given enough indications that they are averse to being a party to passing the Bill in its present format. So, there is a strong likelihood that the Congress will remain isolated in the House over the contents of the Bill.
Being pro-Telangana is one thing – but this Bill is so bad that by supporting this, one might end up causing more damage to the State! For the first time in the history of India, Congress’s own MPs are contemplating to bring in a no-confidence motion against their own Government in the Lok Sabha. There are also some legal luminaries who opine that certain clauses of this Bill will need Amendments to the Constitution meaning the UPA Government has to get a minimum of 272 votes, and a maximum of 360 votes! In the midst of so much confusion, what will happen in Parliament? We don’t know!
There is one more option. 
Option 3 (Unlikely but plausible): The AP Assembly will not send back any concrete proposal. UPA Government doesn’t care about this, and goes ahead with presenting the Bill as is, in Parliament. The atmosphere in Parliament will be as vitriolic as it is in the Assembly. Irrespective of the chaos, the Speaker may announce that the Bill is passed. Telangana is formed! That’s why we said at the beginning that the future is very bleak for the State. Even if a new State is born, it will have to go through the pains of birth pangs. The year 2014 promises to be anything but rosy, cheerful and prosperous.
One can only hope that it will turn out to be otherwise.


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