Long road ahead,divided House foretold in Andhra
Telangana is set to become the 29th state of the country with the ruling dispensation at the Centre on Tuesday giving the go-ahead for the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh to create a new state comprising 10 districts. Hyderabad will be the joint capital for 10 years during which Andhra Pradesh will be required to develop its new capital.
Shortly after the UPA coordination committee unanimously approved the proposal for creation of the Telangana state,the Congress Working Committee (CWC) met Tuesday evening to pass a resolution asking the Centre to take steps to create Telangana within a definite timeframe. A special cabinet meeting has been convened on Wednesday morning,which is expected to approve the proposal,initiating the process of creation of the new state.
While the Congress,by taking the political call,has moved this controversial subject out of its folder,there are still many imponderables that will have to be dealt with before Telangana comes into existence.
Though Congress leaders Tuesday claimed that the process can be completed in four to five months,the CWC resolution was silent about any deadline. This may be for good reason as the road ahead promises to be arduous,allowing many opportunities for anti-Telangana groups to interject and delay the process.
Step 1: To start with,getting an assembly resolution seeking formation of a separate state of Telangana would witness sharp division in the 294-member House which is dominated by 175 members from non-Telangana regions. While it is not constitutionally mandatory to get the resolution passed in the Assembly,the past precedent is to do so. Given that resolutions were passed for creation of Jharkhand,Uttarakhand and Chhattisgarh,the Congress may find it difficult to evade this step,though legal consultations are on.
Step 2: The resolution,when passed,would move to the Centre where the union cabinet will have to give its consent. This will be followed by the arduous process of resolving economic issues arising from the creation of a new state.
Step 3: A Group of Ministers will be constituted to work out the details of dividing revenue,assets and liabilities,devolution of central funds to the new state,sharing of resources like water and power,and demarcating boundaries,splitting administrative resources,among others. This step is likely to consume the maximum time,indicated government sources.
Step 4: Based on the recommendations of the GoM,the Centre will prepare a draft legislation that will again require cabinet approval.
Step 5: Following Cabinet consent,a recommendation will be made to the President to refer the Bill to the parent states legislature for their views. This has to be completed within a prescribed time frame stipulated by the President. While the views are mandatory,the consent of the legislature is not.
The requirement is to consult the legislature. Whatever may be their opinion,its not binding on the government, said constituional expert Subhash Kashyap. Even if the motion falls and fails to get the required majority in the assembly,the Centre can still go ahead, he added.
Step 6: After this,the draft Bill moves back to the Centre,where the home ministry will incorporate the views of the state legislature and prepare a fresh Cabinet note. This stage will also witness final legal vetting by the law ministry.
Step 7: The State Reorganisation Bill will be sent to the union cabinet for its final approval and then introduced in parliament,where it needs to be passed by simple majority in both houses.
Step 8: The President will grant his assent to the Bill for final enactment.
Sources claimed that this administrative and constitutional exercise will consume several months and may stretch for about seven months before the process is completed and the new state finally comes into being. According to former cabinet secretary K M Chandrasekhar,splitting administrative resources can also get very complicated,though such issues can be resolved even after the state is formed.