Hyderabad: The 'historic' debate on the draft AP Reorganisation Bill-2013 continued in the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly on Thursday amid acrimonious scenes and trading of charges as division among parties along regional lines was palpable.
The debate more or less turned into a blame game over the state bifurcation issue as every party indulged in a game of political one-upmanship.
The Telangana faction of the Congress, in particular, sought to target the Telugu Desam Party.
The TDP targeted the Congress, the YSR Congress and the TelanganaRashtraSamiti. And the TRS tried to hit back at the TDP. In the end, the House was abruptly adjourned for the day as TDP and TRS members engaged in a slugfest.
A reference to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi led to a wordy duel between TDP and Congress legislators and a brief adjournment of the proceedings for ten minutes.
TDP legislator Palle Raghunadha Reddy, who initiated the debate on behalf of his party, alleged that Sonia decided to split Andhra Pradesh only to make her son Rahul Gandhi the Prime Minister.
Panchayat Raj Minister K. Jana Reddy took exception to this and wanted the TDP member to withdraw the reference to Sonia Gandhi.
"Is it not a fact that you all people celebrated the announcement of Telangana state and thanked Sonia for that? Have you not celebrated in her name," Raghunadha Reddy questioned.
"Creation of Telangana was a policy decision taken by the Congress of which Sonia is the head," Jana sought to clarify.
Congress' Seemaandhra leaders also objected to Sonia's reference even as TDP MLAs raised slogans against the AICC president.
Subsequently, a wordy duel broke out between Government Chief Whip GandraVenkataRamana Reddy and TDP leader ErrabilliDayakarRao, both hailing from Telangana.
Taking part in the debate, Gandra said the Congress and the TDP went to polls in 2004 and 2009 respectively promising statehood for Telangana.
"People of Telangana fought in a democratic way for a separate state. Today is a historic day as the Centre granted the people's wish after consulting all political parties," he pointed out.
Errabilli intervened and alleged that Gandra was speaking lies.
"Was it not the late Y S Rajasekhara Reddy who stoked the Telangana fire? Did not the Congress and the TRS collude and conspire to weaken the TDP," Errabilli questioned.
Gandra wanted Deputy Speaker MalluBhattiVikramarka, who was in the chair, to expunge Errabilli’s remarks from the records. This drew a sharp reaction from TRS' T. Harish Rao who sought to rebut Errabilli's claim.
The TDP members rushed to the Speaker's podium, forcing the Deputy Speaker to adjourn the House for the day.
Earlier in the day, 15 YSR Congress MLAs were suspended from the House for a day to enable continuation of the debate on the draft Bill.
Tourism Minister VattiVasanth Kumar, who initiated the debate on Wednesday, continued it in the same vein and found fault with the Centre's decision to bifurcate AP.
"Why is the Centre trying to divide the state despite the majority opinion being against it? Why did the Centre not even discuss the Justice Srikrishna Committee report which clearly said a unified state is the best option," Vatti wondered.
He accused the Centre of acting in a ‘most unjust’ manner over the state division issue.
"We have represented to the President and the Prime Minister against the undemocratic process being adopted to divide AP. No procedures or traditions are being followed. The draft Bill referred to the state Legislature did not even contain the 'objects and reasons' for the bifurcation," the minister noted.
He recalled that the Justice Srikrishna Committee recommended division of the state only through ‘consensus’.
"The then Union Home Minister P Chidambaram said an appropriate resolution will be moved in the state Assembly (over the division move). He also spoke about evolving a consensus. But that has not been put to practice," Vatti lashed out.
When TRS member Harish Rao tried to disrupt the minister's speech, Chief Minister N.Kiran Kumar Reddy intervened and appealed to members not to interrupt any member from speaking.
"This is a delicate discussion. We have to respect each other. Rather than provoking others, we should debate issues in such a manner that it convinces the other side," Kiran said.
Continuing his speech, Vatti said if the bifurcation Bill was approved in the current form, it would only leave Seemaandhra region totally impoverished.
"The proposed bifurcation is against the wishes of majority people, particularly those in Seemaandhra. I strongly oppose it," he said.
The debate will continue on Friday and the Assembly will adjourn till January 17 for Sankranti vacation.
As per the original time given by the President, the draft Bill has to be returned to the Centre by January 23 but the Seemaandhra side is planning to seek extension of time.