FOREIGN NEWS: India MPs protest against creation of Telangana state
United Andhra Pradesh activists burn a portrait of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in Ananthapur, some 400km from Hyderabad on August 1, 2013
There has been an uproar in India’s parliament over the decision of the ruling Congress party-led coalition to back the new state of Telangana.
Several MPs raised banners protesting against the move in the upper house, leading to a short adjournment.
Telangana would comprise 10 districts of the state of Andhra Pradesh, including the city of Hyderabad.
The final decision lies with parliament. Andhra Pradesh’s state assembly must also give its approval.
There have been protests for and against the creation of India’s 29th state in recent years.
Supporters say the Telangana area has been neglected by the government. Opponents are unhappy that Hyderabad, home to many major information technology and pharmaceutical companies, would become a shared state capital.
Food security bill
India’s parliament begun its key monsoon session on Monday.
During the session the government will seek to push through a giant programme to provide subsidised food to two-thirds of the population.
The food security ordinance has to be ratified by the parliament within six weeks of its first sitting, otherwise it will lapse.
More than 30 bills are expected to be taken up for passing into law.
They include key bills on reforms in insurance and pensions.
The last few sessions of parliament were frequently disrupted by opposition MPs protesting against corruption and the government’s reform plans.
Ahead of the opening of the session, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sought the co-operation of opposition parties to make it “constructive and productive”.
One of the key bills which will be taken up for passing into law is the ambitious National Food Security Bill, which will cost 1.3 trillion rupees ($23.9bn; £15.8bn) a year, and is being called one of the world’s largest welfare schemes.
Under the new law, the government will provide 5kg of cheap grain every month to nearly 800 million poor people.
Critics say the plan is a political move to win votes and will drain India’s finances. Supporters say it will help reduce poverty.
Some political parties have also sought an amendment to the right to information law to keep them out of its ambit.
Last month, India’s transparency watchdog the Central Information Commission said six national parties will come under the law’s ambit, a move they have resisted.
The monsoon session is expected to take up 32 bills for consideration and voting into law over a period of 16 sittings. It will end on 30 August.