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Telangana bill could make it through Parliament with BJP support

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Story Dated: Saturday, February 08, 2014 09:48 hrs UTC

Prospects of the Telangana bill, cleared by the Union Cabinet on Friday, looked brighter with an influential section of BJP veering around to the view that it might be smart politics to facilitate passage of the legislation.

The Andhra Pradesh Reorganization Bill incorporates a concession to Seemandhra with 130 villages in Bhadrachalam district being set aside for the construction of a separate Polavaram irrigation project.

The lengthy Cabinet meeting saw ministers from Seemandhra and Telangana repeating well worn arguments while other ministers waited impatiently for proceedings to conclude.

The Congress core group on Friday also decided to push ahead with the bill which is expected to be taken up in Parliament on Wednesday.

BJP leaders backing the Telangana bill feel the party should not raise procedural objections to the bill as it would be in the saffron party's interests to let Congress face the fury of Seemandhra parties over bifurcation.

Till now, BJP has indicated that despite its commitment to Telangana, it could raise issues like whether the bill needs to be a constitutional amendment and also oppose any attempt to rush the legislation through Parliament.

But a section of the BJP is considering if the messy process of splitting Andhra Pradesh into two states is the best option as the ruling coalition will have to deal with a blowback in Coastal and Rayalaseema regions.

In the event BJP were to form a government after the Lok Sabha election, it would have to swiftly honour its commitment to create Telangana as a top post-poll priority with the attendant protests and recriminations.

If BJP were to go ahead and strongly support the Andhra Pradesh Reorganization Bill, it will immediately improve the chances of the legislation clearing Parliament though BJP's prospective ally TDP feels differently.

TDP hopes the Telangana bill can be stalled so that it can look to win seats in both regions partnering BJP. But going by the current thinking in BJP, the party seems to feel sacrificing a few seats is affordable.

BJP sources said the heat and dust over Telangana, at least in the immediate context, may subside in about a month or so by which time the campaign for the next Lok Sabha will begin rolling.

With the school of thought that sees profit in letting Congress midwife Telangana gaining salience, resistance to the bill is likely to drop, allowing government managers to deal with Seemandhra holdouts.

Government sources made it clear that options like suspending Seemandhra members, including those from Congress, are very much on the table. If proceedings remain disrupted, a voice vote can be sought too.

TDP leaders claimed Telangana opponents will demand notices for a no-confidence motion be dealt with before any legislative agenda and touted support of some regional parties, though there is little evidence of consultations.

Earlier, the Cabinet approved the Telangana bill and sources said it was true to provisions of the draft sent to the Andhra Pradesh legislature in December last year. The state assembly had rejected the draft in January end.

The bill entrusts the governor, who will handle the charge of both Telangana and Seemandhra for now, with the responsibility of maintaining law and order, internal security and security of vital installations, besides the management and allocation of government buildings in the common capital.

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