The first session of the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly commenced on Thursday. The debate over various legislations, however, soon turned into a political fight between Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy and Opposition Leader Chandrababu Naidu. The two took turns to take potshots at each other.
The war of words began after Tammineni Sitaram was elected as the Assembly Speaker and the leaders of the House and Opposition started delivering their congratulatory address.
During the session, 23 MLAs of Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party (TDP), which is the opposition party in the House, alleged that the Chief Minister and YSRCP chief Jagan did not follow decorum and the formality of informing the Opposition about the election of the Speaker.
While congratulating the Speaker, CM and Leader of the House Jagan alleged that the former Naidu-led government ‘denigrated’ constitutional values and "bought MLAs like animals in the market.”
Jagan claimed that many had “advised” him to induct at least five TDP members into YSRCP to take away Naidu’s status as Leader of Opposition. “Then there will be no difference between him (Naidu) and me. I'm telling this in the House, that if we induct anyone from their party, we will make sure they resign. Besides, if such a scenario happens, I request you (Speaker) to disqualify them immediately," Jagan said.
Jagan also went on to state that in the past, when complaints about mass defections were submitted, the Speaker did not take any action. In 2017, there was a major tussle between TDP and YSRCP over defections, since as many as 23 MLAs jumped ship to the TDP. Before he began his padayatra, Jagan sought the President's intervention in the matter. On Thursday, Jagan said that the people’s verdict was against the Speaker’s inaction as well.
Naidu responded to Jagan’s attack when he stood up to congratulate the newly-elected Speaker and said that the TDP wanted to see the Speaker be elected without controversy.
Addressing the Speaker, Naidu said, “When your name came up, we considered it a good decision and thought they (ruling party) would ask us our opinion too. We would have supported it. When I was the Chief Minister, I sent my ministers to Jagan, who was then the Opposition leader, to convey the news about the Speaker’s election. If we had been asked before, we, too, wanted to propose your name.”
Naidu stated that YSRCP and Jagan, as Leader of the House, failed to follow the House decorum and honour. Stressing on past history, Naidu said, “As the Leader of the House, it is up to you to maintain the decorum and follow tradition.”
Countering Jagan on his statement on defections, Naidu said that Jagan's father, late YS Rajashekara Reddy, too, had defected to the Congress after winning on a Congress ticket.
Jagan hit back at Naidu, accusing him of misrepresenting events that had taken place in front of everyone.
“Though the pro-tem speaker invited all the parties and leaders to bring the newly-elected Speaker to the chair, Naidu is stating falsehoods repeatedly to pass them off as the truth,” Jagan said.
Naidu then responded that he only wanted to make people aware of the facts.
The new session of the Andhra Assembly started on Wednesday for the first time after the new Jagan-led government came to power. The new Assembly has 151 MLAs from the ruling YSRCP and 23 from the TDP, led by former CM Naidu, while Jana Sena Party has one MLA. The Assembly session will go on till June 18.