In a move that can potentially derail the government’s plan to introduce and pass the Telangana Bill in the Lok Sabha on Thursday, the Lok Sabha Secretariat is learnt to have sought the Union law ministry’s opinion on whether a constitutional amendment is required to create the new state.
As of now, the Bill does not seek an amendment to the constitution, despite legal opinion to the contrary.
The Lok Sabha Secretariat, it is learnt, has pointed out that dividing Andhra Pradesh would also entail a division of the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Council, something that could require a constitutional amendment.
“There is a view that in order to give a legislative council to the new state, an amendment in the constitution may be required. That is why the law ministry has been asked to clear the air,” a senior Lok Sabha official said.
Attorney General Goolam E Vahanvati had advised the government that Parliament would have to amend the constitution, without which the two new states would lose the special status provided under Art 371-D. Art 371 of the constitution provides special provisions to protect the interests of the people and resources of the state.
However, following a decision by a Group of Ministers (GoM), the Centre had decided to ignore the AG’s advice and bring a simple state reorganisation Bill.
Meanwhile, in a day full of political developments, which began with the government being forced to junk its original plan to introduce the Bill in Rajya Sabha after questions were raised over the constitutionality of introducing the Bill first in the Upper House, the government decided to make a concerted effort to get the Bill through the Lok Sabha.
Troubleshooters, including Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath, held a lengthy meeting with Speaker Meira Kumar to discuss ways to get the House to function.
The government, it is learnt, tried to persuade the Speaker to use her power to discipline the anti-Telangana MPs, including, if need be, suspending them from the House.
Sources said the Speaker was requested to waive the conditions for introduction and passage of Bills in the House, including the seven-day notice that the minister who desires to introduce a Bill must give in writing. The Speaker can allow the motion to be moved at shorter notice.
The government is learnt to have also asked the Speaker to waive the condition that a Bill would not be included in the list of business for introduction until copies have been made available to MPs at least two days in advance. The Speaker may allow a Bill to be introduced without prior circulation.
Kumar was likely to exempt the Bill from being sent to the Standing Committee for Home, which is headed by BJP leader M Venkaiah Naidu.
The government was, however, unsure on Tuesday about how to deal with the large number of amendments that MPs plan to move after the Bill is introduced.