New Delhi. Frustrated by the logjam in Parliament, Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar called for a meeting to discuss the Telangana issue.
She invited leader of opposition Sushma Swaraj, Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, Andhra Pradesh CM Kiran Kumar Reddy, TDP President N. Chandrababu Naidu, Jaganmohan Reddy from YSR Congress, and senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh.
What transpired at the meeting was recorded by our secret camera. Transcript of the conversation is produced below:
Meira Kumar: Welcome all of you. Baith jaiye, please baith jaiye. Thanks for coming on such a short notice. Before we go any further, what will you all like to eat, drink?
Kiran Kumar Reddy: Sorry Madam, I can’t take anything. I am fasting against Telangana.
Sushil Kumar Shinde: Yeh Chief Minister bhi yeda hai! Have something Mr Reddy, no cameras here. We won’t tell anyone.
Kiran Kumar Reddy: No, I will eat something only after Telangana is cancelled, or when I get hungry again, whichever comes first.
Meira Kumar: (Sigh) Ok refreshments can wait. Digvijaya Singh ji, you were part of decision making on Telangana. Can you explain to everyone here why that decision was taken?
Digvijaya Singh: Madam, first of all I want to say that Aseemanand’s statement to Caravan magazine should be thoroughly probed by the government. RSS terrorism must be punished.
Sushma Swaraj: Areyyyyy what is this? How is any of this related to Telangana? We can discuss it in the next meeting after parliament gets adjourned over RSS. Right now parliament is getting disrupted over Telangana so talk about that only!
Digvijaya Singh: Oh sorry Sushma ji. I consider it good luck to point finger at RSS in my first statement whenever I speak. Anyway, now to Telangana, the decision has been made. I don’t see what the problem is.
Jaganmohan Reddy: Of course there is problem. We want United Andhra.
(Jaganmohan Reddy, N. Chandrababu naidu, Kiran Kumar Reddy in unison): United Andhra!!! United Andhra!!! United Andhra!!! United Andhra!!!
Sushil Kumar Shinde: Jagan, when did you come out of prison?
Jaganmohan Reddy: Why? What does that have to do with Telangana?
Sushil Kumar Shinde: No I was just wondering if my caged parrot should be given some Andhra chilly to munch on…
(Jaganmohan Reddy goes quiet)
N. Chandrababu Naidu: Shinde ji government can’t ignore public sentiment, Andhra Pradesh will stay united.
Meira Kumar: Oho you all are digressing from the issue. I don’t care whether Andhra Pradesh stays united or Telangana is formed. Just ask your MPs not to shout and scream in the parliament. Several MPs are complaining that they are unable to sleep in the parliament with all the noise. Have some respect for the senior leaders.
Kiran Kumar Reddy: I am not in the parliament, I can’t do anything. (Looking at Digvijaya Singh) Who listens to me anyway? I am just a Chief Minister of the state, nobody important. My protests get ignored.
Digvijaya Singh: Don’t get so senti yaar. Have you ever seen Center listen to anyone’s protest over the last few years? How can we make an exception for you? Some people will allege favoritism.
Sushma Swaraj: We can promise from our end that no BJP MP will shout over Telangana. It was never on our list of topics to shout on anyway.
Meira Kumar: See, even BJP is not protesting over it. Let us resolve it democratically. Let us decide through a voice vote. Those in favour of keeping Telangana issue outside parliament, say Aye.
(Sushil Kumar Shinde, Digvijay Singh, Sushma Swaraj say Aye)
Meira Kumar: Those who want to bring Telangana inside parliament, say No
(Jaganmohan Reddy, N. Chandrababu Naidu, Kiran Kumar Reddy say No)
Meira Kumar: The Ayes have it, The Ayes have it.
N. Chandrababu Naidu: Arey Madam it was 3-3, how did Ayes have it?
Meira Kumar: The meeting is adjourned till votes are recounted.