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Assembly on the horns of a dilemma…

Highlights

Assembly on the horns of a dilemma…K Ramachandra Murthy, Rajya Sabha Elections. The language and the mannerisms that have been on display on the TV screen were of poor quality, unbecoming of a cultured race.

If any more evidence is needed to prove that the regional divide in Andhra Pradesh is complete and irreversible, it is the latest episode which forced the Congress legislators from Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema to propose the names of rebel candidates in the biennial elections to the Rajya Sabha. The Bill which is responsible for the ruckus in legislatures is only a formality. The bifurcation would be formalising the emotional division that has taken place over a period of time. What we have been witnessing in the Assembly and the Council throughout February was the manifestation of a prolonged disconnect and disharmony that had set in the lives of Telugu-speaking people. The root cause for the malady is mutual distrust and lack of the spirit of accommodation.

The language and the mannerisms that have been on display on the TV screen were of poor quality, unbecoming of a cultured race. The political and electoral compulsions are responsible for the mutual recrimination going beyond the pale of decency and decorum. Every member of the House has to prove to his/her electorate that he/she is with them. It applies even to the Chairman of the Council, Speaker, leader of the House and leader of the Opposition since they too hope to get elected in 2014 elections. People are said to be leading the leaders. The leaders have abandoned their duty to lead the people. Instead, they are only making noise in the legislatures and in the streets on behalf of the people. In the process, all parliamentary conventions are thrown to the winds. Devious ways are invented to convince the people (read voters) that they (the members) are fighting to achieve statehood for Telangana or to prevent it. No institution, or individual, is spared. The worst and the most despicable traits in the human nature and the political system are brought out in bold relief, thanks to the unseemly competitive politics.

The presiding officers have had to strike a balance between their constitutional obligations and political compulsions. Speaker Nadendla Manohar had to say that the notice given by Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy would be put to vote. He also reportedly suggested that it may be passed by voice vote. It may or may not happen taking the continued bedlam in the Assembly into consideration. Even if it happens, it would not change the course of the Bill. The Bihar Assembly also passed such a resolution in 1998. But the Vajpayee government had introduced the Bill in parliament. The AP Assembly was adjourned for Thursday without any debate which has been going on a farcical way.

The House is unlikely to allow any business in the last day. The Bill, notwithstanding whether it is a draft or the original, a strange controversy raised by the CM at the eleventh hour after reiterating his stand on the floor of the House for hours, will be sent to parliament. In the meanwhile, there is a need for the Speaker to send a strong signal to the voters that he is not against ‘united AP’. At the same time he cannot violate the constitutional position which does not take into account any decision of the Assembly on the Bill through voting. The fate of the Bill and the State has to be decided only by parliament as envisaged by Article 3 of the Constitution.

Kiran Kumar Reddy has more of such problems since he has been promising to safeguard the unity of the State at any cost. There is pressure on him to float a political party to enable all the sitting MPs and MLAs to contest on a non-Congress ticket. He has been exhibiting extraordinary skills in fighting against odds with his back to the wall. His strategy is aimed at being seen as fighting against the party high command while in fact facilitating the process of the debate on the Bill in the legislature. He succeeded so far in keeping the Congress flock together in the wake of the precipitous decision by the Congress Working Committee and the UPA-II to bifurcate the State. In his interest and in the interest of his party, Kiran Reddy had to don the role of a rebel with a cause. Right from July 30 last year, he has been enacting the dual role with great aplomb.

The notice to the Speaker is the last weapon used by the CM in the fight against the Bill. He also threatened to quit politics if the Bill is introduced in its present form in parliament. He may not quit politics, he may leave the Congress. Once the Bill is out of the way, he has to float a party. There is no way he can avoid doing that after so much of grandstanding, so many media conferences denouncing the Centre for bifurcating the State. He utilised his office and the deepening crisis to emerge as a hero. His insistence on voting on his notice has confirmed him a challenger. If he fails to found a party, he will end up as a modern-day Don Quixote or Girisham who indulged in a lot of bravado.

There are all kinds of political analyses making rounds. If Kiran Reddy has been acting to the script by the high command, the perception that YS Jagan had a secret pact with Congress president Sonia Gandhi does not hold water. Kiran’s party would definitely harm the YSRCP to the extent it can. It may not win in many constituencies, but it would defeat the YSRCP and the Congress thus helping the TDP. Is Sonia’s plan aimed at stopping the Juggernaut of Jaganmohan Reddy from reaching its goal at any cost even if it means making it easy for Naidu to get back to power? Is Jagan a greater enemy than Naidu as far as Sonia is concerned? Both YS Jaganmohan Reddy and Kiran Kumar Reddy have to prove to the people that they are independent of the Congress high command. If any one or both of them are perceived as proxy of the Congress leadership, Naidu will have an easy ride to the vote bank with the BJP providing lubricant to the wheels of the TDP chariot. In the mind-games being played by political parties, the TDP is sought to be projected as a party that is gaining in Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema at the cost of the YSRCP.

The likes of Konda Surekha and Sabbam Hari indulge in public bashing of the YSRCP and its boss giving an impression to the general public that all is not well with the fledgling party. Some persons who have been going round posing as candidates of the YSRCP till recently are trying to get TDP tickets. But the insiders of the YSRCP say leaders are knocking at the TDP door only after getting a ‘no’ from the YSRCP.

This Assembly is about to complete its tenure on a very disappointing note. The last session, barring a short one to pass vote-on-account, that would end today can be described as the most unproductive one symbolising the five years of its listless existence. There used to be a semblance of debate as long as YS Rajasekhara Reddy was around, although it was mostly marked by a series of sparring matches between him and Chandrababu Naidu, leader of the Opposition. After YSR's demise, the only point of public discourse has been the question of bifurcation. Political parties and leaders have been forced to redefine their stand. They have been doing it in the name of the people. Even after the Bill is sent to the President, the debate will continue in public domain converting itself into election campaign. Whether the ensuing elections would be held in one State or two depends on the decision of parliament.

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