The Andhra Pradesh government led by YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, on Monday, adopted a statutory resolution for abolishing its upper house – the legislative council – after a six-hour-long discussion.
Finance minister Buggana Rajendranath moved the resolution on behalf of chief minister YS 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 YSRCp were absent at the time of voting. The opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) abstained from the discussion and voting on the abolition of the legisltive council.
With just nine members, the ruling YSR Congress is in minority in the 58-member Legislative Council. The opposition Telugu Desam Party has an upper hand with 28 members.
The move by the Andhra Pradesh cabinet came after last week the state government failed to pass two crucial bills related to its plan of having three capitals for the state in the Upper House of the state legislature.
A two-third 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. He added that the Council has become meaningless. 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.
The CM said the government was incurring Rs 60 crore expenditure annually on the Council and 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.
Andhra Pradesh had its first legislative council from 1958 to 1985 when the then N T Rama Rao government abolished 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 nominated also.
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 decentralization 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.