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Telangana set to be India`s 29th state as Rajya Sabha passes historic bill

Last Updated: Thursday, February 20, 2014 - 23:24

New Delhi: Creation of Telangana as India`s 29th state was approved by Parliament on Thursday night with Rajya Sabha clearing the contentious bill to split Andhra Pradesh after Congress and BJP came together amid unprecedented bedlam.

In a bid to address concerns of the Seemandhra region, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced grant of Special Category Status including tax incentives to the residuary state which will comprise 13 districts as part of a six-point development package for AP`s two successor states.

Singh, whose intervention was drowned out during vociferous protests by members from Seemandhra region as also from Trinamool Congress and Shiv Sena, said for purposes of Central assistance, the Special Status that will also include tax incentives will be extended for a period of five years.

The Prime Minister made the announcement apparently responding to demands from Seemandhra MPs as well as from BJP for "justice" to the region.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi`s request to the Prime Minister to give the special status to Seemandhra for five years appears to have paved the way for the historic bill`s passage and BJP came on board.

After days of mayhem in Parliament, the suspense over the approval of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill, 2014 came to an end with BJP backing the government despite raising several concerns. The Lok Sabha approved the bill on Tuesday.

"I hope these additional announcements will demonstrate our steadfast commitment to not just the creation of Telangana but also to the continued prosperity and welfare of Seemandhra," Singh noted. The Bill was passed by voice vote.

A protective cordon was thrown around Singh as well as Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde by Congress members as members from Seemandhra region as also those from TMC and Shiv Sena stormed the Well with TMC members even tearing papers and throwing them on the floor.

CPI-M members walked out in protest. "The Bill is passed," Deputy Chairman P J Kurien announced, bringing the curtains down on the legislation in Parliament.

The House looked like a virtual battle-ground during the five-hour proceedings, which saw seven adjournments as members resorted to slogan shouting and tore papers describing the bill passed by the Lok Sabha as illegal.
The debate also saw the government facing an awkward situation when Union Minister Chiranjeevi, who hails from Seemandhra region, opposed the decision on Telangana inviting ridicule from BJP, which wondered whether a member of the Council of Minister can oppose a decision taken by his own government without resigning from it.
As the bill appeared set to be a reality with most of the amendments moved by the BJP either negatived or withdrawn, CPI-M and Trinamool Congress alleged "nexus" between the ruling party and the main Opposition.

First Published: Thursday, February 20, 2014 - 23:24

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