Monday, December 23, 2013

Opinion: Why is Telangana Getting Provisional Assembly?

By Syed Amin Jafri (Guest Writer)

How long will the formation of Telangana state take under Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill? When will Assembly elections be held? Will Assembly polls coincide with Lok Sabha elections or held separately? Will Telangana and residuary state of AP have simultaneous Assembly polls or go their separate ways? What are the earlier precedents? These are the questions plaguing the political parties and leaders on both sides of the regional divide.
   
The most recent instance of formation of new states — Uttarakhand, Jharkhand and Chattisgarh — dates back to the year 2000. Madhya Pradesh Reorganisation Bill 2000 was passed by Lok Sabha on July 31 and Rajya Sabha on August 9, 2000.
Amendments to the Bill were approved by Rajya Sabha on August 10. The Bill got the President’s assent on August 25. The notification was gazetted on September 18 and Chhattisgarh state came into being on November 1, 2000. The time taken from passage of the Bill in Lok Sabha to formation of the state was 93 days. It took 69 days from the President’s assent to formation of the state.
   
Uttar Pradesh Reorganisation Bill 2000 was adopted in LS on August 1 and RS on August 10, 2000. The Bill got the President’s assent on August 25. The notification was gazetted on September 14 and Uttarakhand state came into being on November 9, 2000. The time taken from passage of the Bill in Lok Sabha to formation of the state was 101 days. It took 77 days from the President’s assent to formation of the new state.

Similarly, Bihar Reorganisation Bill 2000 was passed by LS on August 2 and RS on August 11, 2000. The Bill got President’s assent on August 25 and the notification was gazetted on September 14 and Jharkhand state came into being on November 15, 2000. The time taken from passage of the bill in Lok Sabha to formation of the state was 106 days. It took 83 days from President’s assent to formation of the state.
   
It may be recalled that the three Bills pertaining to bifurcation of UP, Bihar and MP were originally introduced by the government on December 22, 1998. The Bills could not be passed and subsequently lapsed on account of dissolution of the 12th Lok Sabha in 1999. The Bills were re-introduced in Parliament on May 14, 2000, after the 13th Lok Sabha was constituted.
   
The AP Reorganisation Bill provides for formation of a provisional Assembly of Telangana till a new Assembly is constituted. Sections 17 (sub-section 1), 18 (sub-sections 1,2,3,4), 19 and 20 (sub-section 2) relate to various provisions with regard to provisional Assembly of Telangana. Though the strength of Telangana Assembly is fixed at 119, as per Section 16 (subsections 1 and 3c), the Bill also has incorporates provisions relating to “delimitation of constituencies” (vide sections 26, 27 and 28). This means that the delimitation of constituencies will also take place.
   
Madhya Pradesh and Bihar Reorganisation Acts 2000 refer to Legislative Assembly of Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand respectively. The then existing 320-member MP Assembly was split into 230-member MP Assembly and 90-member Chhattisgarh Assembly. Similarly, the then existing 324-member Bihar Assembly was divided into 243-member Bihar Assembly and 81-member Jharkhand Assembly.
   
However, UP Reorganisation Act 2000 provided for "provisional Legislative Assembly of Uttaranchal." The then existing 425-member UP Assembly was split into 403-member UP Assembly and the remaining 22 members were allotted to Uttarakhand Assembly. However, the strength of Uttarakhand Assembly was fixed at 70 members and the Election Commission was tasked to take up delimitation of the newly-created 70 constituencies in Uttarakhand.
 
A group of Telangana Congress leaders led by M Shashidhar Reddy, NDMA vice-chairman, have represented to the Union government to increase the strength of Telangana Assembly from 119 to 153 members by adding 34 new Assembly segments at the rate of two extra segments to the existing seven Assembly segments in each of the 17 Lok Sabha constituencies in Telangana.

The Congress high command has reportedly agreed to the proposal and hence there is this reference to the provisional Assembly and the provision for delimitation of constituencies in the AP Reorganisation Bill. The delimitation exercise takes about nine months. Assembly polls in Telangana are, thus, likely to be held only after delimitation work is over. Till that time, the term of “provisional members” will be extended. In the meantime, Lok Sabha polls will be held during April-May 2014.
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