The Telangana Bill, passed by Parliament last week, is likely to go to President Pranab Mukherjee next week for his approval, Union Minister Jairam Ramesh said on Thursday.
“The Bill has been vetted by the Law Ministry… it is likely to go to the President early next week. We hope that sometime next week the President will give his approval,” Ramesh, a key member of the Group of Ministers (GoM) on Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation issue, told reporters here.
The day President gives his approval to the Bill is called the ‘notified date’ and the day two Chief Ministers are appointed is called the ‘appointed day’, he said.
The Congress leader recalled that the appointed day came three months after the notified date in case of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Uttarakhand, created in 2000.
The ‘appointed day’ for formation of Telangana will be so fixed to enable the satisfactory completion of preparatory work relating to division of assets and liabilities, he said.
“Prime Minister has said the ‘appointed day’ for the formation of the new state will be so fixed in relation to the notified date so as to enable preparatory work for division of personnel, division of assets and liabilities and other preparatory work,” he said.
Noting that there is an impression that Congress has pushed the Bill through with an eye on upcoming elections, he asserted that it is far from true and pointed out that the Telangana demand had been there for the last about 60 years.
Congress will honour its commitment to separate Telangana, but not at the cost of Seemandhra, he said.
Ramesh dismissed allegation that the Bill is “unconstitutional”.
“I categorically deny this accusation that we brought the Bill only for 2014 Lok Sabha elections,” Ramesh said.
Maintaining that the Telangana statehood issue has aroused passions, he said the urgent need now is for reconciliation to address the concerns of people. “The days of agitation are over. The days of administration must begin now.”
Speaking about the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Ramesh said its leader Arvind Kejriwal was a “brilliant agitator but proved to be a disastrous administrator. Agitators must become responsible administrators”.
To queries about the situation in Andhra Pradesh following the resignation of Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy and no decision on government formation being taken even after a week, he said the matter is being discussed.
Asked about the issue of merger or alliance between Congress and TRS, he said it is the Congress which delivered the separate state.
“I have no locus standi on that (merger/alliance). TRS and Congress leadership are in discussion. But, let us be very clear. TRS may have agitated for the state of Telangana, but Congress is the one that has bitten the bullet and created the state of Telangana. Let there be no two doubts about it.”
Highlighting the steps taken to address the concerns of Seemandhra, he said Hyderabad has been made a common capital for 10 years and an expert committee will make recommendation on the location of the new capital for Seemandhra within six months.
The Centre shall fund the establishment of necessary infrastructure for Secretariat, legislature and the existing education admission quotas shall continue for 10 years. One centre each of IIT, NIT, IIM, IIIT besides Central, petroleum and agriculture universities would be established in Seemandhra, Ramesh said.
The Polavaram multi-purpose irrigation project shall be declared as a national project and executed by the Centre, the Minister said, adding special category status would be given to Seemandhra.
In a lighter vein, Ramesh said it is an irony that he is criticised much in Seemandhra for his role in division of AP, but he has now become a Rajya Sabha member from the non-Telangana region.
The Congress leader, who originally hails from Karnataka, is a Rajya Sabha member from undivided AP.
Replying to a query about the controversial comments made by External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid on Narendra Modi, Ramesh said BJP leader Yashwant Sinha had also used harsh words against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
“The meaning of the word used by Salman Khurshid was that he (Modi) had no power (shakti),” he said.