After another rowdy day in Parliament, lawmakers in India’s upper house passed a bill on Thursday to create a new state in India, Telangana. The bill, which has to be signed by India’s President to become law, would carve India’s 29th state of some 35 million people out of the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.
The bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh has been hotly contested both in Delhi’s halls of power and the streets of Andhra Pradesh. That’s partly because the capital and tech hub of Hyderabad, where global giants like Google and Microsoft are operating, would become part of the new state, though remaining the joint capital of both states for its first 10 years. Critics of the division are concerned of the financial hit Andhra Pradesh’s coffers will take with Hyderabad’s revenues gone. The state’s chief minister has resigned in protest.
In a statement made yesterday before a chaotic Rajya Sabha, the Indian Parliament’s upper house, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sought to assure opponents of the Telangana Bill that New Delhi would protect the interests of both Telangana and a diminished AP. He pointed out that the bill includes “appropriate fiscal measures, including offer of tax incentives to the successor states in order to promote industrialization and economic growth in both the states.”
The bill’s passage follows days of uproarious protests by lawmakers against the split, including one opposing MP wielding pepper spray that sent his colleagues fleeing the building. But it was the supporters of Telangana, having fought for decades for a separate state on grounds that their region has been neglected, who prevailed. They cheered the bill’s passage, as did backing members of the ruling Congress Party, which introduced the bill in government and stands to gain as many as 17 parliamentary seats in the new state come national elections this spring. Having now passed in both houses, the president is widely expected to sign the bill into law.