The Andhra Pradesh Assembly on Monday passed a statutory resolution seeking to abolish the state Legislative Council, days after the YSRC government failed to get two crucial bills on its plans to have three capitals cleared by the opposition TDP-dominated Upper House.
By moving for the Councils abolition, Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy is seeking to undo the action of his late father Y S Rajasekhara Reddy who, as the then Chief Minister of erstwhile united Andhra Pradesh, got the Upper House revived in March 2007.
The Chief Minister, who moved the one-line resolution in the assembly amid a boycott by the Telugu Desam Party and hours after the state Cabinet cleared the measure, said he was feeling proud over the decision to abolish the council and maintained it was taken “purely in public interest”.
Telugu Desam Party chief and Leader of the Opposition in the assembly N Chandrababu Naidu flayed the government for the move to abolish the council and said though he had opposed its revival in 2004, he subsequently changed his stance in deference to the “people’s wishes”.
All 133 members present in the 175-member House, when the division vote was taken at 6 pm, voted in favour and the resolution under Article 169 (1) of the Constitution was adopted unanimously.
Speaker Tammineni Seetaram announced that the resolution was adopted by a majority as stipulated under Article 169 (1).
“The Legislative Assembly of the state of Andhra Pradesh resolves that the Legislative Council of the state be abolished,” the resolution read.
As per the Constitution, it is now for the Centre to take a call on the issue.
The bills for creation of executive capital in Visakhapatnam, legislative in Amaravati and judicial capital in Kurnool were passed by the assembly on January 20, amid raging protests by farmers and others.
According to Article 169 (1), Parliament by law provide for abolition of the Legislative Council of state or for the creation of such a Council if th Legislative Assembly of the State passes a resolution to that effect by a marjority of the total membership of the assembly and by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members present and voting.
TDP boycotted the days proceedings in the assembly, protesting the governments decision to abolish the Council, where the key bills on capitals were referred to a select committee for deeper examination on January 22, days after the assembly had cleared them.
The lone member of Jana Sena Party, Rapaka Varaprasada Rao, supported the government resolution. Of the two TDP MLAs, who virtually defected to the YSRC, one remained in the assembly lobbies while another was away when the division was taken and, thus, could not vote.
Government whip Chevireddi Bhaskar Reddy was notable among the 18 absentees from the government side.
The government played a video clip of Chandrababu Naidu vehemently opposing the revival of the Council when the then YS Rajasekhara Reddy government moved a resolution in the assembly in July 2004.
Revival of the Council is only for political rehabilitation of Congress workers. There is no use of it either for the people or the state… It will only delay the enactment of laws and result in wasteful expenditure of public money, Naidu had said on July 8, 2004, opposing the then Congress governments resolution.
Jagan Mohan Reddy, who spoke on the resolution seeking abolition of the Council, lashed out at his predecessors double-speak on the issue.
Referring to history, he pointed out the Constituent Assembly that drafted the country’s Constitution did not feel the need for a second House of a state Legislature.Had the Constituent Assembly felt the Council was required, it would not have provided for its abolition.
Only six out of 28 states in the country now had a Legislative Council. Our party will secure majority in the Council next year. But we have decided to abolish it only in view of the peoples needs and governments responsibilities,” he asserted.
Quoting Martin Luther King, the Chief Minister said, The time is always right to do what is right.”
Earlier in the day, the state Cabinet passed a resolution to set in motion the process for abolishing the 58-member state Legislative Council, where the ruling YSR Congress is in a minority with just nine members and the TDP has 28 MLCs.
The YSRC is enraged after it failed to get the AP Decentralisation and Inclusive Development of All Regions Bill, 2020 and the APCRDA (Repeal) Billpassed by Council last week as they were referred to the select committee at the insistence of the TDP.
The YSRC had on December 17 first threatened to abolish the Council, albeit off-the-record, when it became clear the TDP was bent on blocking the two bills, related to creation of a separate Commission for SCs and conversion of all government schools into English medium.
As the Legislature was adjourned sine die on December 17, no further action was taken but last week the issue cropped up again as the TDP remained firm on its stand on opposing the plan to have three capitals.
Despite the YSRC attracting two TDP members to its side, the government failed to get the three capitals bills passed in the Council, triggering a debate in the assembly on whether or not the Upper House was needed.
What will be the meaning of governance if the House of Elders does not allow good decisions to be taken in the interest of people and block enactment of laws? We, hence, thought there was no need to continue the Council, Jagan Mohan Reddy said.
The AP Legislative Council was revived in March 2007 after it was first abolished in 1985 when the Telugu Desam Party government, headed by its founder N T Rama Rao, was in power.
Though Rajiv Gandhi was the Prime Minister and the Congress enjoyed a clear majority in the AP Council then, he obliged NTR.