Indian media: Passions flare over Telangana

Telangana is stirring strong emotions Image copyright AFP
Image caption Telangana is stirring strong emotions

The high emotions that accompanied the approval of a controversial bill in the lower house of the Indian parliament to carve out a new state, Telangana, out of the southern state of Andhra Pradesh dominate today's papers.

The decision to split Andhra Pradesh sparked uproar among MPs from the state and was preceded by days of heated discussions in parliament, with one lawmaker even using pepper spray against his opponents.

The planned separation, approved by MPs from both the governing Congress party and the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is now due for deliberation in the upper house of parliament.

"The House resembled a battle ground," exclaims the Deccan Herald.

"Telangana born in the dark," says a headline in the Deccan Chronicle, referring to the fact that the televised broadcast of the debate in parliament was suddenly stopped.

Commentators raise doubts about whether the "technical glitch" was intentional or not and are also suspicious of the motives behind the decision to split Andhra Pradesh as well

According to the Hindustan Times, the government "seems to have been guided by electoral compulsions rather than the welfare of all the people of the state".

"Bracing for a difficult election, the Congress is eyeing a major chunk of 17 Lok Sabha [lower house] seats from the proposed new state" of Telangana, explains another article in the same paper.

According to the Firstpost website, Congress is not the only party guilty of ballot calculations.

"It was majoritarianism of the worst kind where the main opposition party BJP considered itself incumbent to support the ruling party, so as to be in the reckoning for votes and some seats in the new Telangana state," the report says.

"Congress was able to steamroll the Telangana Bill through with little debate or across-the-House support on an emotive issue that could potentially unleash violence" in Andhra Pradesh, writes The Times of India.

The daily predicts that "given the ferocious resistance to the move, it's not beyond the bounds of possibility that the Bill will be stalled in Rajya Sabha [upper house]".

Rajiv Gandhi case

In more national news, The Pioneer says the decision by India's Supreme Court to commute to life in prison the death sentences of three men, convicted of plotting the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, has "come as no surprise".

"What should have been decided upon expeditiously, given that not only a former Prime Minister had been killed but that the violence was a clear act of terrorism… was kept needlessly hanging in the balance" the paper adds.

Echoing a similar sentiment, The Hindu says: "It is good that the court had laid down a sound jurisprudential foundation for its verdict well before it granted relief to the Rajiv Gandhi case trio, lest someone read in it any unseen influence of emotions whipped up by some political elements."

"Alarm bells"

Meanwhile, the Indian Air Force (IAF) has "dropped a bomb with its alarming admission" that it would find it difficult to handle a possible "collusive threat" from China and Pakistan, The Hindustan Times reports.

The statement has set off "alarm bells", the paper adds.

The Air Force has to deal with a sharp fall in the number of its operational fighter squadrons, The Indian Express explains.

AAP apology

In what is seen as a "major embarrassment", the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has apologised to Transparency International after AAP spokesperson Shazia Ilmi said the NGO had registered a decrease in corruption in the Indian capital during the party's 49-day rule, the CNN-IBN website reports.

"Since then, we have come to know that the said survey had no connection with Transparency International and the source of Shazia Ilmi's information had quit by then," the APP said in statement.

Transparency International India has denied undertaking "any study on corruption in Delhi".

The APP made a strong debut at state elections in Delhi last December.

The party's rule, however, ended last week when its leader Arvind Kejriwal stepped down as Chief Minister after his attempts to introduce a new anti-corruption bill were blocked in the city's legislative assembly.

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