Andhra Pradesh assembly adopts resolution, abolishes state legislative council
The Andhra Pradesh assembly on Monday adopted a statutory resolution for abolishing its Upper House or the legislative council after a six-hour-long discussion.
Finance minister Buggana Rajendranath moved the resolution on behalf of chief minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy. It was adopted with 132 members of the ruling YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) in the 175-member assembly voting for it. A lone member of Jana Sena Party, Rapaka Vara Prasad, defied the party whip to support the ruling party. As many as 18 members of the YSRC were absent at the time of voting. The opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) abstained from the discussion and voting on the abolition.
A two-thirds majority was required for the adoption of the resolution as per the rules.
Reddy defended his decision to abolish the council. “In fact, the Constitution does not say that there should be compulsorily a legislative council in every state. The Cabinet is answerable to the lower House and not to the Upper,” he said.
Reddy said the Council has become meaningless and a hurdle for passing laws. He pointed out how the TDP having a majority in the Council stalled two bills seeking to create three capitals and also that on the introduction of English medium in government schools.
Reddy said the government was incurring Rs 60 crore expenditure annually on the Council. He said the poor state cannot afford it anymore.
The resolution would now be sent to the Union home ministry, which will have to introduce a bill in Parliament for the Council’s abolition. The exercise may take a year, officials said.
The YSRCP enjoys an overwhelming majority of 151 in the lower House. TDP has 28 members in the 58-member Council and the YSRC just nine.
Andhra Pradesh had its first legislative council from 1958 to 1985 when the then N T Rama Rao government abolished it. Reddy’s father, Y S Rajasekhar Reddy, restored the council in 2007 when he was the chief minister.
The council works like Rajya Sabha. Once in two years, one-third of its members retire and new members are elected by local bodies representatives, assembly members, graduates, and teachers. Some members are also nominated. The YSRC is expected to have a majority in the Council by 2023 based on its numbers in the assembly.
Reddy on Monday showed video clippings of TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu’s speech in the assembly opposing the revival of the legislative council, saying it served no purpose and was a burden on the state exchequer.
The TDP opposed the resolution. “The government has taken the decision only because the TDP had stalled the attempt to create three capitals and sent the decentralisation of administration bills to the select committee,” TDP lawmaker Deepak Reddy said.
He said the YSRC took three days to adopt the resolution, hoping they would split the TDP legislators. “But none of us succumbed to any pressures,” Reddy said.
YSRC spokesman denied the allegations. “We have absolutely no need to buy MLCs [members of legislative council] who have no value. When we wanted to abolish the council, why should we lure any MLCs?”