Sub-plan Bill gets House thumbs up


The state Assembly approved the AP Scheduled Castes Sub-Plan and Tribal Sub-Plan (Planning, Allocation and Utilisation of Financial Resources) Bill — 2012 on Sunday amid high drama.

Though it had initially been expected that the Bill, which provides legal backing to the allocation and spending of funds in the annual Budget for weaker sections under the sub-plan, would be unanimously passed given the importance every political party attaches to SCs, STs and their welfare, principal Opposition Telugu Desam pressed for a division on an amendment it proposed to the Bill.

Though the ruling Congress emerged victorious at the end of the nerve wracking suspense that lasted for half an hour, the division exposed the scant regard legislators had for the historic moment of passing of the Bill, the first of its kind in the country.

Only 69 of the 155 ruling party members and 47 of the combined Opposition strength of 138 were present in the House when Speaker N. Manohar took the head count for the TD’s amendment.

In a strategic move, the TD proposed that the Bill should have a provision to plan and spend funds in proportion to the sub classes within the Scheduled Castes. This was apparently to highlight its revived slogan of categorising SCs into A,B,C and D groups.

The other Opposition parties, including the YSR Congress, after initial dilly dallying, came in support of the amendment.

The Chief Minister was seen sending out a note to the Speaker in an apparent bid to inform him not to take up division on a matter that was struck down by the Supreme Court.

The Speaker, however, went ahead with the division, but put the result on hold. Quoting a Supreme Court order striking down SC categorisation, the Chief Minister pointed out that the House could not take up division on an amendment that had no legal sanctity.

No groups in Bill to avoid legalities

The Chief Minister raising objection over the division sent shock waves to the ruling party members who, being few in numbers as it was, thought that he was avoiding the division fearing a loss.

The Speaker also appeared to have been caught in a dilemma and sought the opinions of all parties. It was then the turn of the Opposition parties, one after another, to quickly dispel the impression that they were against the Bill.

While the YSRC, Left and the BJP left it to the Speaker to take a final decision, the TD, TRS and the Majlis attempted to hold back the passing of the Bill demanding that the Advocate General should be called to clear the legal tangle.

Loksatta member Jayaprakash Narayana, however, tried to end the impasse by hinting that the Bill also spoke of giving priority to achieve equality within SCs.

Deputy Chief Minister Damodar Raja Narasimha then took the cue and went on to explain that it was a conscious decision of the government to avoid explicitly mentioning A, B, C and D groups in the Bill to avoid legal hurdles. “The Bill also talks of equal development of all sub sections,” he said.

The matter was finally decided with the Speaker announcing the result which went in the Congress’ favour.

He then put all other clauses to vote before finally announcing the passing of the Bill and adjourning the House sine die.

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