New Delhi/Hyderabad: Andhra Pradesh is set to be split into two with the union cabinet Thursday approving the draft bill for carving out Telangana as the 29th state of India.
About 57 years after it was merged with Andhra to form Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, which comprises 10 districts including Hyderabad, will come into existence as a separate state.
Dropping the proposal of Rayala-Telangana, the cabinet stuck to the earlier decision of Telangana state with 10 districts.
Also rejecting the demand of leaders of Seemandhra (combined Rayalseema and coastal Andhra regions) for making Hyderabad a union territory, it stuck to the earlier decision that the city would be a common capital for 10 years.
The Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill will be sent to President Pranab Mukherjee Friday or Saturday with a request to make a reference to the state’s legislature under Constitution’s Article 3, union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde told reporters after the three-hour long cabinet meet chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
He said the president would send the draft bill to the assembly with a stipulated time to consider it.
After the assembly sends back the bill to the president, it would come to the government and brought before the cabinet again and then a final bill tabled in parliament.
“We don’t know. The president will give time to the state legislature,” said Shinde when asked if the bill would come up during parliament’s winter session which began Thursday.
“We want the bill in the winter session,” he added.
The draft bill was approved after the Group of Ministers (GoM) constituted in October to look into various issues related to the bifurcation submitted its report. Shinde, who headed the GoM, said the draft bill was based on the its recommendations.
Reading out the highlights of the bill, he said the governor of Telangana would have special responsibility for protection of lives and property of people of other regions living in Hyderabad. The central government will appoint two advisors to the governor.
The central government will also assist in developing a new capital for successor state of Andhra Pradesh comprising 13 districts. An expert committee would be constituted in 45 days to identify the capital.
The reactions to the cabinet decision were quick.
Celebrations broke out in Telangana as people hailed the development by greeting each other, distributing sweets and bursting crackers, while protests began in Seemandhra with people opposing bifurcation taking to streets.
Police stepped up security in all 13 districts of Seemandhra and authorities suspended bus services in some vulnerable areas as a precautionary measure.
YSR Congress party and Andhra Pradesh Non-Gazetted Officers’ Association have separately called for shutdown in Seemandhra Friday.
Seemandhra MPs of Telugu Desam Party (TDP) gave a call for 48-hour shutdown.
Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy, who is opposed to bifurcation, has called a meeting of ministers and other leaders from Seemandhra Friday to discuss the latest developments and chalk out future course of action.
Deputy Chief Minister Damodar Rajanarasimha, ministers, MPs and other Congress leaders from Telangana hailed the cabinet decision. Union Science and Technology Minister S. Jaipal Reddy termed it a historic victory.
The lone cabinet minister from Telangana was confident that the bill would be tabled in parliament during the winter session and the separate state would be a reality in the new year.
Three cabinet ministers from Seemandhra, who were present at the cabinet meeting, and the junior ministers and Congress MPs are likely to decide their strategy Friday
Welcoming the union cabinet’s approval to the draft bill, Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) however expressed its reservations over the reported decision to entrust the power of maintaining law and order with the governor.
TRS chief K. Chandrasekhara Rao said the people of Telangana should remain alert till the bill is passed by parliament.
His son and party legislator K. Tarakarama Rao said the party politburo would meet Friday to discuss the latest developments and chalk out its future course of action.
The GoM, which was seriously considering the proposal for Rayala-Telangana by merging two of the four districts of Rayalaseema with Telangana, reportedly dropped it after stiff opposition from both the sides.
Telangana observed a total shutdown Thursday to oppose the proposal.
Andhra Pradesh was formed on Nov 1, 1956 following merger of Andhra State with Telangana, then known as Hyderabad State. It was one of the first states formed on linguistic basis.
A part of the erstwhile princely Hyderabad State, it witnessed massive protests for separate statehood in 1969. More than 300 people were killed in police firing.
The movement was revived in 2000 with the floating of TRS.
Following widespread protests and indefinite hunger strike by TRS chief K. Chandrasekhara Rao, the central government on Dec 9, 2009 decided to carve out Telangana state but backed out after counter protests in Seemandhra.