On 27 January, the Andhra Pradesh cabinet led by Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy proposed a resolution to abolish the state’s legislative council. It is expected to be passed unanimously, as the Telugu Desam Party has announced a boycott of the assembly session.
The move was initiated after Jagan’s government failed to pass two crucial bills i.e. the AP Decentralisation and Inclusive Development of all Regions Bill 2020 and the Capital Region Development Authority Repeal Bill 2020, which was stalled by the TDP in the upper house of the legislature. The two bills were related to creating three different capitals for Andhra Pradesh – Legislative, Judicial, and Executive.
The Legislative Council is the upper house in the state legislature. Telugu Desam Party being the majority in the Upper House, the Chairman MA Sharrif on 22 January referred the two bills (the AP Decentralization and Inclusive Development of all Regions Bill 2020 and the Capital Region Development Authority Repeal Bill 2020), to a select committee. With just nine members, the ruling YSR Congress party is in minority in the Upper house.
The TDP leader in the legislative council, Y Ramakrishnudu stated that the entire process to abolish the council would take more than two years. He further stated that the Jagan’s government and the assembly could only pass a resolution and request the Centre to scrap the council.
Additionally, the TDP MP Kanakamedala Ravindra Kumar stated that “the Andhra Pradesh government is expected to follow the values of the Constitution. Unfortunately, it has taken an abnormal decision.” He added that “The Legislative Council may be dissolved for other reasons but not for the reason that it sent the bills to a select committee.”
Meanwhile, the Minister for Finance and Legislative Affairs Buggana Rajendranath during Thursday’s discussion session claimed that “There has been a conspiracy in the way the two bills have been referred to a selection committee on Wednesday by the Legislative Council Chairman. The chairman hadn’t been given the discretionary powers of Rule 154 to refer the bills to a select committee.” He added that a proper procedure was not followed to refer the bills to the select committee.
After a bill has been passed in the assembly, it is taken up for discussion in the state Legislative Assembly, following which it will be sent to the Union Home Ministry which in turn will have to introduce the bill in the Parliament for its passage. The entire procedure is likely to take around a year.
Earlier in 1985, the legislative council was first abolished during the Chief Ministership of NT Rama Rao, which was later revived by the YS Rajasekhara Reddy government in 2007 by lobbying with the then Manmohan Singh government at the Centre.
Assam was the first state to abolish its state legislative council in 1947. West Bengal abolished its legislative council in 1969, while Punjab abolished its council in 1970.