Karimnagar district of Telangana region is observing a shutdown Wednesday to protest Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy’s move in taking away the legislative affairs portfolio from Civil Supplies Minister D. Sridhar Babu.
Shops, business establishments and educational institutions remained closed while buses of state-owned Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) went off the roads in the district on a call given by the district unit of the Congress party.
Congress workers took to streets raising slogans against the chief minister, burning his effigies and tyres.
Telangana leaders across party lines have condemned the chief minister’s action and described it as another attempt to stall formation of Telangana state.
In a development late Tuesday, the chief minister divested Sridhar Babu of legislative affairs portfolio and allotted it to Primary Education Minister S. Sailajanth, who is opposing formation of a separate Telangana state.
The move sparked a row as it came a couple of days before Andhra Pradesh assembly set to begin debate on the bill for formation of a separate Telangana state.
The legislative affairs minister plays a key role by assisting the speaker in running the house and conducting the debate.
Kiran Reddy, himself a staunch integrationist, was unhappy with Sridhar Babu for claiming that the debate on Telangana bill had started. This was in contrast to the chief minister’s assertion the debate is yet to start.
President Pranab Mukherjee had referred Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill 2013 to the state assembly Dec 12 for its views but it could be tabled only Dec 16. Amid the protests by legislators from Seemandhra, Sridhar Babu rose to support the bill and urged Deputy Speaker Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka to begin the debate.
The chair asked leader of opposition N. Chandrababu Naidu to speak but he was not present in the house.
Later, Sridhar Babu and other ministers from Telangana claimed that the debate has already started on the bill.
Opposing the state’s bifurcation, Seemandhra legislators stalled the house for four days. The assembly was adjourned till Jan 3.
The second phase of the winter session will continue till Jan 23, the last date prescribed by the president for the assembly to send back the bill with its views. [IANS]