AP’s capital shift plan delayed, Upper House refers bills to select panel
Legislative Council chairman Mohd Ahmed Sharif referred the two bills – one to repeal AP Capital Region Development Authority Act aimed at developing the capital region at Amaravati and the second one on decentralisation of administration through formation of three capital cities – to the select committee.Updated: Jan 22, 2020 22:26 IST
In yet another setback to the YSR Congress party government in Andhra Pradesh, the chairman of state legislative council on Wednesday referred the two bills pertaining to the state capital to the select committee, thereby delaying the plan to shift the administrative capital from Amaravati to Visakhapatnam by at least a few weeks.
After a prolonged debate and repeated adjournments of the Upper House amidst arguments and counter arguments, legislative council chairman Mohd Ahmed Sharif announced that he was referring the two bills – one to repeal AP Capital Region Development Authority Act aimed at developing the capital region at Amaravati and the second one on decentralisation of administration through formation of three capital cities – to the select committee.
Even as the ruling YSRC lawmakers and ministers were protesting the decision, the council chairman adjourned the House sine die.
According to former legislative council member and political analyst K Nageshwar, the decision to refer the bills to the select committee would mean stalling the formation of three capitals for the state by at least a few weeks.
“The committee will have to make an in-depth study of the bills and may undertake field studies and even conduct even public hearings before giving its report,” he said.
An official in the state legislature said on condition of anonymity that the select committee constituted by the legislative council will be headed by the Telugu Desam Party member and comprise members from other parties as well. “It will be constituted shortly,” he said.
YSRC leaders strongly opposed the decision of the chairman. “He was clearly influenced by TDP president and opposition leader N Chandrababu Naidu, who was sitting in the visitors’ gallery and giving directions to the chairman,” state finance minister Buggana Rajendranath Reddy alleged.
Describing it as a dark day for democracy, Reddy alleged that the TDP had absolutely no respect for the people’s mandate. “The two bills were passed by the legislative assembly and the council can only reject them. But referring the bills to the select committee is only part of delaying tactics by the TDP members,” he said.
Leader of opposition in the council Yanamala Ramakrishnudu, however, said the legislative council chairman has the discretionary power to refer the bills to the select committee as per the rules.
“We had given the notice for sending the bills to the select committee well within the time limit and the chairman admitted the same on the floor of the House,” he said.
On Tuesday, the TDP stonewalled the passage of the two bills in the council by invoking Rule 71 of the Business Rules of the legislature, which allows a debate for disapproving the government bills. Notwithstanding the protests by the YSRC members, the council chairman allowed the debate that went on till 10 pm and finally the TDP won the debate with 27-13 votes.
When the bills came up for discussion on Wednesday, the TDP members objected to it saying once the House had accepted the motion under Rule 71, there would be no more discussions. However, the chairman allowed the discussion on the bills since they were listed on the day’s agenda.
The debate went on for more than five hours amid a blackout of live telecast of the council proceedings. Later, the TDP members insisted the bills be referred to the select committee and the YSRC members objected to it. As the deadlock continued for more than three hours, the state government even called advocate general S Subrahmanyam to the House to take legal opinion.
However, the chairman used his discretionary powers and referred the bills to the select committee.