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Andhra seeks to do away with legislative council

January 24, 2020 06:41 AM


Andhra seeks to do away with legislative council
NEW MOVE Cabinet to adopt resolution on Jan 27 as Jagan questions need for Upper House

Farmers block roads in Amaravati on January 4, 2020. The Andhra Pradesh high court on Thursday directed the state government against relocating government offices from Amaravati to the proposed administrative capital, Visakhapatnam. HT file
Srinivasa Rao Apparasu

Hyderabad : The Andhra Pradesh Cabinet is likely to adopt a resolution seeking abolition of the state’s legislative council on January 27 before the introduction of a bill in this regard in the legislature, an official familiar with the matter said on Thursday after chief minister Jagan Mohan Reddy questioned the need for having the upper House.

Reddy said the assembly, which would be meeting again on Monday, will thoroughly discuss the continuance of the council and take a call after the upper House blocked two crucial bills aimed at creating three capitals for the state and referred them to a select committee on Wednesday for further scrutiny.

“Once the assembly passes the bill, it will be sent to the Union home ministry for moving the same in Parliament,” said the official in the chief minister’s office on condition of anonymity.

Reddy’s YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) enjoys an overwhelming majority of 151 in a 175-member assembly. Opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) has 28 members is the 58-member legislative council and the YSRC just nine. The Bharatiya Janata Party has two and Progressive Democratic Front five members. There are three Independents lawmakers and eight nominated members in the upper House, which has three vacancies. Reddy said the council was expected to give advice to the government on important decisions, but it has turned into a political platform for the Opposition parties to stall bills.

“It has no relevance in the present circumstances when the assembly has several intellectuals, doctors, engineers, lawyers, and constitutional experts. There is no need to have any separate legislative council for the state. For that matter, only six other states in the country have a bicameral legislature,” he said during a debate over the bills in the assembly.

Reddy pointed out the council had become a burden on the state government financially. “We are spending Rs 60 crore annually on the council. Is it necessary?”

He criticised the way legislative council chairman Mohammad Ahmed Sharif “violated the rules and procedures” in sending the capital bills to the select committee. “The chairman acted under the influence of opposition leader N Chandrababu Naidu who was sitting in the gallery. I was deeply hurt with the developments,” he said. Other members of the YSRC, who took part in the debate over the bills, also recommended the abolition of the council. Yanamala Ramakrishnudu, the TDP’s leader in the council, opposed Reddy’s idea. “Just because the council referred the bills to the select committee, he is contemplating abolition of the council,” Ramakrishnudu said.

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 CM.

Political analyst S Ramakrishna said the state government has all the powers to abolish the upper House as per the Constitution’s Article 169 if it does not want to have it.

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.

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