The opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in Andhra Pradesh has decided to skip a crucial session of the Legislative Assembly on Monday, where the ruling YSRCP government may go ahead with its plans to abolish the state's Legislative Council.
Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy, who has questioned the need for the Upper House of the state Legislature, has called for a cabinet meeting on Monday morning.
The extended winter session of the Assembly will continue on Monday to possibly pass a resolution recommending the abolition of the Council in the backdrop of the political developments since December 17.
The decision to boycott the Assembly proceedings was taken after a meeting called by TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu on Sunday, to decide their future course of action.
However, all is not well with the TDP as six MLCs decided to skip the meeting.
Besides Pothula Sunita and Shivanath Reddy, who went against the party whip last week, at least four other MLCs had stayed away citing personal reasons.
Alternatively, the ruling YSRCP is also said to be working on a 'Plan-B' by perhaps pulling some of the TDP MLCs into its fold as it has already snatched two.
As things stand, YSRCP will gain a majority in the Council only in 2021 when a number of opposition members will retire at the end of their six-year term.
The YSRCP, which has just nine members in the 58-member Council, is miffed after it failed to get two crucial Bills related to its plan of having three capitals for the state passed.
Using his discretionary power under Rule 154, the Council Chairman M A Sharrif had referred the AP Decentralisation and Inclusive Development of All Regions Bill, 2020 and the APCRDA (Repeal) Bill to a select committee for deeper examination.
"We need to seriously think whether we need to have such a House which appears to be functioning with only political motives. It is not mandatory to have the Council, which is our own creation, and it is only for our convenience," the Chief Minister had told the Assembly on Thursday evening.
In fact, the YSRCP had on December 17 first threatened to abolish the Council when it became clear that the TDP was bent on blocking two Bills, related to creation of a separate Commission for Scheduled Castes and conversion of all government schools into English medium.
As the Legislature was adjourned sine dine on December 17, no further action was taken.
But the issue cropped up again last week as the TDP, that has 28 members in the Council, remained firm on its stand on opposing the three capitals plan.
Despite YSRCP 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 should be allowed to remain in existence.
"We need to seriously think about it... whether we should have such a House or do away with it," Jagan said in the Assembly.
Many see Jagan's threat to abolish the Council as a "mind game" to lure several TDP MLCs into his YSRCP.
"At least 17 out of the 23 TDP MLAs are ready to jump ship. Should we say anything about their MLCs," the Chief Ministers key aide and Advisor on Public Affairs, Sajjala Ramakrishna Reddy, remarked on Sunday.
If indeed the YSRCP succeeds in its plan and ensures the crossover of more TDP MLCs, the Council abolition move might possibly be aborted, sources indicated.
"Having the Council in place is politically crucial for the YSRCP as Jagan has promised MLC posts to several leaders. Its a very major political gamble he is taking, either way," a top YSRCP leader remarked.