Three reasons why Jagan Reddy decided to dissolve legislative council
The Andhra Pradesh cabinet led Chief Minister by Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy on Monday decided to abolish the state legislative council. While the quickness with which the cabinet moved might have surprised a few, the decision itself was largely expected.
Here are three reasons why the Jagan Reddy-led YSRCP government decided to take this step:
YSRCP is in a minority in the Upper House: In the May 2018 assembly polls, the YSRCP swept winning 151 of the 175 assembly seats with the main Opposition TDP getting a measly 23 seats in the Lower House. YSRCP saw this verdict as a slap against what it said was the Amaravati-centric model of development that the previous Chandrababu Naidu-led TDP government had followed in the state. However, in the Upper House which has a strength of 58 members - including eight nominated ones - YSRCP has a mere nine members, TDP has 26 with rest divided amongst others including BJP which has three. With current vacancy of four seats, the effective strength of the council is 54 and most of the nominated members have tended to side with the Opposition TDP. So, YSRCP doesn’t want an Upper Council where it would take it several years to get a majority.
Inability to pass key legislation: It is no secret that YSRCP is in a hurry to undo a lot of measures undertaken by the previous TDP government including bills like denotifying the Amaravati Capital Region Development Authority. However, being in a minority in the Upper House has meant it is at a severe handicap. Recently, using the Upper House, the Opposition TDP was able to stall several key landmark legsilations which the YSRCP government was desperate to pass.
There is a precedent: Predictably while the TDP is crying foul at this new move of the state government, YSRCP supporters point out that how it was actually TDP which when it came to power for the first time in 1983 sought to abolish the Upper House. Finally, in 1985, TDP did manage to get the Upper House abolished, thus converting a bicameral house into a uni-cameral one till 2007 when Congress revived it after coming back to power both in the state and at the Centre. TDP then had justified the measure pointing to the then main Opposition Congress party’s stalling tactics in preventing passing of key legislation using its strength in the Upper House though it had lost in the assembly polls. Now the wheel has come a full circle with YSRCP doing to TDP what the TDP did to Congress.
While the cabinet resolution will easily sail through the assembly, things aren’t that smooth for YSRCP. The bill even after being passed in the assembly will have to be referred to the Centre which has to get the consent of Parliament by introducing a bill. YSRCP will have to play footsie with BJP inured to achieve its objective of abolishing the upper house. BJP and NDA are unlikely to oblige unless they extracts their pound of political flesh. So while the wheels have been set in motion for the abolition of the upper house in Andhra, the actual deed even if everything goes smoothly may at least by 6-9 months away from being realised.