In a major development, the ruling YSRCP government in Andhra Pradesh has passed a resolution to abolish the state's Legislative Council.
The Andhra Pradesh Council of Ministers held a crucial meeting in Amaravati on Monday, which was chaired by Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, who had questioned the need for the Upper House of the state Legislature last week.
The extended winter session of the Assembly will continue on Monday to possibly pass a resolution recommending the abolition of the Council. In a circular to all legislators in the state, Legislature Secretary P Balakrishnamacharyulu said that there would be a "short discussion on consequences arising after Bills passed by the Legislative Assembly" on Monday.
As per the rules, the Assembly will have to adopt the resolution with a two-thirds majority and send it to the Centre, where it will need the Parliament's approval.
Since the YSRCP has a brute majority of 151 MLAs in the 175-member Assembly, the ruling government will face no difficulty in passing the resolution. Although, the state government is now pegging its hopes on the BJP-led Centre to pass a Bill to this effect in the Budget Session of Parliament, scheduled for next month.
How this helps Jagan government
While the Jagan government holds a majority in the state Assembly, Chandrababu Naidu-led opposition party, Telugu Desam Party (TDP), has a majority in the Legislative Council.
Though the two bills â€” Andhra Pradesh Decentralisation and Inclusive Development of All Regions Bill, 2020, and the Andhra Pradesh Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA) Act (Repeal) Bill â€” were passed in the Assembly, the Jagan government suffered a setback in the Legislative Council. Council Chairman MA Sharrif referred the two bills to a select committee for deeper examination, thereby, delaying the process by at least three months.
Additionally, recently, the Assembly ratified a Bill for making English medium mandatory in all government schools for the second time in two months. Though the Bill had already been passed by the Assembly, it faced a hurdle in the Council, with members of the Council suggesting several amendments. The Assembly passed the Bill two months later, rejecting the amendments.
According to a statement from the Chief Ministerâ€™s Office, TDP is "misusing its majority in the Legislative Council to halt the bills that have received majority voting in the Assembly". Accusing TDP of politicising the two Bill pertaining to three-capital row, it said, â€śTDP has the advantage of Council chairman from its party and is using the powers and majority for political benefits.â€ť
Hence, the abolition of the Council means that any opposition to any kind of legislation can be quashed by the Jagan government, essentially making the opposition ineffective.
Speaking to reporters after the cabinet's decision was announced, senior YSRCP leader RK Roja said, "Very few states today have a Legislative Council. If the Council is mocking the people's verdict, the people feel that it's a waste of expenses. People have chosen Jagan and voted for 151 MLAs in the Assembly. The people of north Andhra and Rayalaseema are asking us to abolish the Council as it is blocking their progress.â€ť
Meanwhile, the TDP has decided to boycott the proceedings of the Assembly on Monday in protest. A TDP delegation, led by former Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, met Andhra Governor on Friday.
In 1985, it was TDP founder and former Chief Minister NT Rama Rao who had abolished the Council, claiming that it caused a drain on the state exchequer. In 2007, it was Jagan's father and former CM YS Rajasekhar Reddy who revived the Council, after a gap of 22 years.
With inputs from Jahnavi Reddy