Having decided to table the Telangana Bill in Lok Sabha, the Congress on Tuesday cracked down on dissenters, expelling from the party six MPs from Seemandhra who had given notice for a no-confidence motion, and who have been leading the protests that have paralysed the lower house since the beginning of this session.
Congress sources said the next step could be their suspension from the House, which the party believes would ensure the passage of the Bill. Government floor managers will be seeking the opposition’s cooperation in suspending the MPs, sources said. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will meet top BJP leaders over lunch on Wednesday to discuss the standoff in Parliament.
By expelling Sabbam Hari, G V Harsha Kumar, Vundavalli Arun Kumar, Lagadapati Rajagopal, R Sambasiva Rao and A Sai Pratap, the party has sent out a strong signal to those opposing the division of Andhra Pradesh to fall in line. However, many other Congress MPs, including ministers, from Seemandhra made it clear on Tuesday that they would oppose the Bill.
Sabbam Hari, who is the MP from Anakapalli, threatened to immolate himself in Lok Sabha if the Bill was tabled. He claimed he would be joined by two other MPs. Hari has already resigned from the party, and the expulsion does not mean much for him.
The Congress core group, which met in the afternoon, discussed the crisis in Parliament. AICC general secretary and head of the party’s communications department, Ajay Maken, said, “We are committed to creation of Telangana. This (expulsions) is a step in the direction.”
Asked about the possibility of action against the rebellious Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy, Maken said: “The immediate goal is to get the clearance from Parliament for the Telangana Bill. The party is looking into other aspects at different levels.”