Lok Sabha passes bill to divide Andhra amid din

New Delhi, February 18 (IANS): Amid pandemonium and a television blackout of the proceedings, the Lok Sabha Tuesday passed a bill that seeks to carve out a Telangana state out of Andhra Pradesh. The Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill was passed by voice vote in the face of noisy protests by Andhra Pradesh MPs opposed to Telangana as well as a section of the opposition parties. The critics, including Congress minister D. Purandeswari and CPI-M members, massed near Speaker Meira Kumar. But they and others opposed to the division of Andhra Pradesh were simply ignored as amendments to the bills were taken up and then the bill was finally declared passed by the lower house. Congress president Sonia Gandhi watched the proceedings with visible dismay. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was not present. So high were the tempers in the house that a group of Congress members from Andhra Pradesh stood near Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde as he read out the bill in a bid to protect him from anti-Telangana MPs.