Manmohan Singh bats for special status for Andhra Pradesh, urges NDA to fulfill his promise
He explained in the Rajya Sabha why the UPA government, which he headed, could not implement the assurance, noting that while an ordinance on Andhra Pradesh was drafted, it could not be issued as the parliamentary election process had started
Andhra Pradesh's plea for special status from the Centre got a major boost when former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh urged the NDA government to implement the promises made to Andhra Pradesh to "protect the honour of the House".
Breaking his silence in the Upper House, while participating in a debate on a private member's Bill in the Rajya Sabha, he sought to explain why the UPA government which he headed could not implement the assurance, noting that while an ordinance on Andhra Pradesh was drafted, it could not be issued as the parliamentary election process had started.
"On 20th February 2014, here in the Rajya Sabha while passing the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill, I, as the then Prime Minister, made six promises on the floor of this august House. The then Leader of Opposition and now Leader of the House -- Arun Jaitley -- satisfied with the promises -- withdrew all the amendments he had proposed," he said.
"On 1st March 2014, the Union Cabinet presided over by me considered and passed all promises made by me in this house. The cabinet sent a draft ordinance to the President but as the election process intervened, the ordinance could not be issued," the former PM Dr Singh said.
The Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill by K.V.P. Ramachandra Rao of the Congress, which has been at the centre of debate for the last two weeks, was to be put to vote on Friday in the Rajya Sabha which has the government in minority.
Jaitley, however, objected to the draft legislation and said it was a money Bill. It was then referred to Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan by Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien to decide if it was a money Bill.
"We must be clear about where we stand as regards jurisdiction of the Upper House. There is no distinction between a Bill moved by government and that by a private member.
"Article 117 is very clear... money Bill can be introduced only in the Lok Sabha. A money Bill can be only voted in the Lok Sabha, and third, if a dispute arises as to whether a particular Bill is money Bill or not, it's only the presiding officer of the Lok Sabha who can decide," Jaitley said.
Kurien then sought suggestions from other members on whether the Bill tabled by Rao should be considered a money Bill.
Congress member Kapil Sibal said every Bill eventually entails drawing fund from the Consolidated Fund of India, while Samajwadi Party leader Ramgopal Yadav said that "common sense says if the Bill was introduced in this House, it is not a money Bill".
Kurien, however, cited rules for his move to refer the decision to the Lok Sabha Speaker.
While the treasury benches welcomed the decision with thumping of desks, Congress members trooped near the chairman's podium shouting slogans against the government.
Amid the din, the House was adjourned for the day.