The winter session of the Andhra Pradesh Legislature that begins on Monday promises to be a stormy affair over a host of issues, particularly the state capital, Polavaram irrigation project and the hike in various taxes. The session is expected to be conducted till December 5, but the exact dates will be decided by the Business Advisory Committees of the respective Houses, Legislature sources told PTI.
The Question Hour, however, is being dispensed with in both the Council and the Assembly in view of the prevailing COVID-19 situation, though the main opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) has been demanding that it be conducted.
Interestingly, at a preparatory meeting on the eve of the Legislature session, both the Chairman of the Council M A Shariff and Assembly Speaker Thammineni Seetharam stressed on members' right to raise questions on various issues concerning the people and asked the bureaucrats to furnish answers promptly.
The TDP also wants short duration discussions taken up on various issues of public importance like payment of MGNREGA dues, distribution of Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana houses, new sand policy, installation of meters to agricultural power connections, indiscriminate borrowings by the government, conduct of elections to local bodies and others.
The government, however, is coming up with a heavy agenda as it has to replace at least 11 Ordinances, promulgated since August 4, with fresh laws.
Also, an amendment to the AP Motor Vehicles Taxation Act is being brought in to enhance various transport taxes. The government is seeking to rake in an additional revenue of Rs 400 crore through this measure.
The Government of India returned two crucial Bills, including the Disha Bill for women's protection, earlier passed by the Legislature, suggesting modifications and they need to be enacted afresh for securing the President's assent, Legislature sources said. "In all there could be some 15-17 Bills that need to be passed in the winter session," they added.
Speaker Thammineni Seetharam directed the officials concerned to keep all Bills ready on the opening day of the session. But the TDP, which is in a majority in the 58-member Legislative Council, could once again seek to thwart the government's efforts to push through certain legislations.
Government Chief Whip G Srikanth Reddy said they were ready to discuss whatever issue the TDP wished to raise in the Legislature. "It's Chandrababu Naidu and his son Lokesh who shied away from discussing people's problems. But we are prepared because the Jagan Mohan Reddy government distributed Rs 70,000 crore to the people in the times of distress," the Chief Whip pointed out.
"We are ready to conduct the session for any number of days, but they should first say how long they are ready to sit," Srikanth Reddy said, reacting to TDP's demand that the session be conducted for at least 10 days.