New Delhi: A bill providing for raising the number of members of Andhra Pradesh Legislative Council from 50 to 58 was passed by Lok Sabha on Tuesday with government rejecting Sonia Gandhi's charge that it is not fulfilling promises made to Andhra when Telangana was carved out of it.
Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju blamed the previous UPA government for anomalies in the Act as he moved The Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill, 2015 for passage.
He said the government is working on preparing a more comprehensive bill to address various concerns and shortcomings.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu, while intervening in the debate, said the previous UPA government's "lack of application of mind" has led to present complications.
He said the new comprehensive bill would address all concerns and shortcomings. However, it will take some time, he said, as law-making is a complex process and the government is moving step by step.
Earlier, while initiating the debate, Congress President Sonia Gandhi wondered why the sense of urgency is not being shown by the government in fulfilling key commitments made to people of Andhra Pradesh "who have been waiting patiently for over nine months."
Gandhi, who participated in a debate after a long time, said the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had committed in the Rajya Sabha that Andhra Pradesh will be granted special category status and the Union Cabinet had approved the decision and had directed the Planning Commission to implement it.
"But it is disappointing to find that the government has not shown any interest in fulfilling these commitments. This is even more preplexing given that the BJP and the TDP are in coalition at the Centre and the state," she said.
Referring to various infrastructural commitments,
Gandhi said "the people of Andhra Pradesh are deeply anguished over the apathy being shown to them by this government. Nine long months have gone by and they are beginning to feel that they are being taken for granted."
Naidu said he agrees with the Congress President about problems being faced by people of AP. "But the government has inherited the situation and is trying to address the concerns," he added.
To Gandhi's nine-month barb, he said, "people talk of nine months, nine weeks...You took nine-and-a-half years to bring the bill and we took nine months. It is less time as compared..."
Naidu's remarks had Congress members on their feet and there was a verbal spat between BJP and Congress benches.
Rijiju asserted that the government will fulfill all commitments made to the state.
"Home Ministry is following up on all the commitments. We are coordinating with all ministries," he said.
The Centre will ensure that there is no conflict between the two states and both the Chief Ministers are talking and the tension is getting reduced between them, Naidu said.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh had agreed earlier that the bill was not comprehensive in nature and there was a need to resolve several issues. He said more such bills would be brought to Parliament to settle issues which had cropped up following the creation of Telangana.
After the division, Andhra was left with 175 members in the legislative assembly and the members in the state legislative council was 50. Since one-third of 175 come to 58, it was decided to increase the strength of the state's Upper House.
Participating in the discussion, A Sampath (CPI-M) said the government is doing only some piecemeal legislations and certain defects continue in the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill.
"Just because of political reason do not try to divide the states.. Do not try to create political animosity between the states," he said.
Gutha Sukhender Reddy (Cong) said Telangana has been hit by power crisis post bifurcation and the state should get its share of power from Andhra Pradesh.
Demanding that Krishna Water Authority be given the right to distribute water between the two states, Reddy said the seven mandals which have become part of Andhra Pradesh should be given to Telangana.
Hari Babu Kambhampati (BJP), however, contended that the Telangana has got that much area which it had at the time of merger with Andhra Pradesh in 1956. "You cannot claim the districts which were not part of Telangana prior to 1956," he said.
Contending that Andhra Pradesh is a revenue deficit state, Midhun Reddy (YSRCP) demanded special status for it. He also wanted a timeframe from the Centre to sort out the issues with neighbouring states.
He also regretted Rs 100 crore allocation to Polavaram project saying with this fund it would only be completed in 50 years.