New Delhi, Feb 22 (IANS) A group of Congress MPs from Andhra Pradesh Tuesday embarrassed their party leadership by raising the demand for a separate Telangana state in the Lok Sabha, even as the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said it was willing to support the statehood bill if the government brought it to parliament.
Congress MPs Ponnam Prabhakar, M. Jagannath and G. Vivekanand were up on their feet in the Lok Sabha for over 20 minutes soon after the Question Hour was over and demanded that they be allowed to raise the Telangana issue.
They did not relent despite Home Minister P. Chidambaram and Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs V. Narayanasamy urging them to return to their seats. Narayanasamy was also seen having a word with Congress chief Sonia Gandhi inside the house.
While the Zero Hour was in progress, Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj backed the MPs who demanded a separate Telangana state, saying it was “justified”.
“If the government brings a bill for creation of the new state, the BJP is ready to help it pass in parliament,” she said. But the government remained silent on the issue.
The Congress MPs returned to their seats only after Speaker Meira Kumar assured them that they would be allowed to raise the issue in the Lok Sabha provided they served a notice.
Later, former BJP chief Rajnath Singh said his party was “completely supporting” the Telangana movement and insisted that the government bring a legislation during the budget session itself on the separate statehood issue.
Speaking on the motion of thanks to President Pratibha Patil’s address to a joint sitting of both houses of parliament, Rajnath Singh lashed out at the government for not doing anything on the report from Justice B.N. Srikrishna committee that suggested six options to settle the dispute over Telangana.
“What is the government doing on the report submitted by the committee,” Rajnath Singh asked.
“Get the Telangana bill as soon as possible. We will support it so that the Telangana state is formed,” he said in the lower house.
On Monday, a few Congress MPs from Telangana region had raised pro-statehood slogans at the fag end of Patil’s address. They also displayed placards in support of their demand and shouted “Jai Telangana” and “We want Telangana”.
In Hyderabad, the issue rocked the Andhra Pradesh assembly for the third day Tuesday with legislators from Telangana wanting a resolution in favour of separate statehood for Telangana passed by the legislature.
A 48-hour bandh in the Telangana region of the state also began Tuesday with normal life getting paralysed in capital Hyderabad and nine other districts of the region.
The Srikrishna committee Dec 30 last year submitted its 505-page report to the home ministry, but a final decision of the central government on the statehood demand and the six recommendations of the panel is still awaited.