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India creates new state despite protests

Lower house of parliament passes bill to carve out Telangana from Andhra Pradesh, amid uproar from opponents.

Last updated: 18 Feb 2014 15:56
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The decision to break up the southern state was made ahead of national elections due by May [Reuters]

India's lower house of parliament has passed a decree to create the country's 29th state amid chaotic scenes and uproar in from opponents of the bill.

MPs on Tuesday passed the proposal to split Andhra Pradesh and create Telanganam, despite protests from Andhra Pradesh politicians who are against the plan.

Politicians from Andhra Pradesh's prosperous coastal region have repeatedly protested in parliament over the division, with one legislator even firing pepper spray last week.

The Speaker adjourned the House three times after disruptions on Tuesday, and the parliamentary proceedings were not telecast live.

"This is a black day in the history of this country and we're declaring a bandh (shutdown) tomorrow in the state of Andhra Pradesh in protest," said Jagan Mohan Reddy, a lawmaker from coastal Andhra Pradesh.

The decision to break up the southern state was made ahead of national elections due by May. Telangana will be country’s 29th state with 17 parliamentary seats.

The state capital Hyderabad, a major hub of tech companies, will remain the common capital for the two states for a period of 10 years.

Such was the mood on Tuesday that roads leading up to parliament in the heart of Delhi were blocked and paramilitary troopers deployed. In Telangana, supporters celebrated on the streets on hearing the news.

The bill will go forward to the less-powerful upper house of parliament, whose members are expected to back the lower house's decision.

Political fortunes

Critics say the Congress party, which proposed the bill and leads a coalition government, is seeking to shore up its political fortunes after dragging its feet over an issue that has lasted four decades.

Supporters say Telangana's economic development has been neglected in favour of the richer and more powerful coastal region known as Seemandhra and that a new state is the only solution.

The main opposition, the BJP, which is the frontrunner in the national election race, voted in favour of the bill.

The last time India saw the birth of a new state was in 2000, when the northern states of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh were divided to create Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand.

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Source:
Reuters
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