The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) changed its stance on the Legislative Council after having opposed its revival in 2004, in deference to people's wishes to enable unrepresented marginalised sections get a seat in the state Legislature's Upper House party, chief N Chandrababu Naidu said on Monday.
Reacting to the proceedings in the Assembly, which his party boycotted in protest against the government decision to abolish the Council, the Telugu Desam Party supremo gave a point by point rebuttal to the charges the ruling YSRCP made against him.
The government played a video clipping of Naidu's speech in the then united Andhra Pradesh Assembly opposing the resolution for revival of the Council in July 2004.
"I no doubt opposed the revival of the Council. But subsequently we changed our party stance in deference to people's wishes," the TDP chief, who is also the leader of the opposition in the assembly, pointed out.
"When I undertook a foot march in 2012-13, people suggested that the Council be continued so that several marginalised sections that could otherwise not make it to the Legislature will get a representation at least in the Upper House. In fact, of the 30 TDP MLCs, 20 belong to the marginalised sections and minorities," he said.
The opposition leader also ridiculed Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy's claim that Rs 60 crore was being wastefully spent on the Council.
"When the government is required to spend Rs 30 crore per annum to meet the expenses for Jagan's weekly court appearances, why can't money be spent on the Legislative Council?" he asked.
On the charge that the TDP was blocking enactment of laws using its majority in the Council -- the main ground on which the Jagan Mohan Reddy government sought to abolish the Upper House -- the opposition leader recalled that 38 of the 42 Bills brought in by the current government were passed without any hitch.
"In respect of two Bills, we only suggested minor amendments. And, the two Bills related to the capital issue were referred to a select committee essentially to elicit public opinion. What's wrong in that?" Naidu questioned.
He alleged that the YSRCP offered Rs 5 crore or more to each TDP MLC who was willing to crossover.
"They offered cash or even blank cheques to our MLCs. But hats off to our legislators who did not yield," the TDP chief remarked.
The Assembly on Monday passed a statutory resolution seeking to abolish the 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.