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Opposing Telangana bill, Kiran Reddy bats for united Andhra in Assembly
Wednesday January 22, 2014 7:45 PM, IANS

Strongly opposing the bill for bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy Wednesday said it was his misfortune that the bill is being debated in the state assembly when he heads the state.

He began speaking on the bill in the assembly even as suspense continued on whether the president would extend the deadline for the debate on the bill expiring Thursday.

With a decision yet to be taken on the state government's request for four more weeks for the debate on Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill 2013, the chief minister began his speech on the historic bill for formation of a separate Telangana state.

President Pranab Mukherjee had last month referred the bill to the state assembly under Section 3 of the constitution. The assembly was asked to send back the bill with its opinion by Jan 23.

The chief minister said he is opposing the bill. "It is my misfortune that I am the chief minister when the bill for state's bifurcation is being debated," he said.

Kiran Reddy said Congress took the decision to bifurcate the state after all parties supported the demand for separate Telangana state. He told the house that though his party had taken the decision, he was opposing it as the state could develop and prosper only if it remains united.

Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) legislators disrupted Kiran Reddy's speech and wanted him to clarify if he was opposing the bill in his individual capacity or as the leader of the house.

Panchayat Raj Minister K. Jana Reddy, who is from Telangana, also sought a clarification from the chief minister.

Defending the chief minister, Finance Minister Anam Ramnarayana Reddy appealed to the members not to disrupt the speech of the leader of the house. The chief minister later resumed his speech, banking heavily on the history to argue for united Andhra Pradesh.

The president on Dec 12 had sent the bill to the assembly but the house could not take up debate for many days due to protests by legislators from Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra regions.

The state government last week wrote to the union home ministry seeking another month for detailed debate on the bill. Legislators from Telangana, irrespective of their party affiliations, are opposing this on the ground that it is a "conspiracy" to stall formation of a separate state.

A decision by the president on the state's request is likely Wednesday night or Thursday, the last day of the winter session of the assembly.

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