Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy
Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy|IANS (File photo)

Andhra Assembly passes resolution for abolishing Council


Amaravati, January 27, 2020

The Andhra Assembly on Monday unanimously passed a resolution to abolish the state Legislative Council as the Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy-led government moved to do away with the upper house of the state legislature, considered it as a roadblock for the passage of vital Bills.

Speaker T. Seetharam announced that the statutory resolution has been adopted with 133 members voting in favour of it. There were no votes against it or abstentions.

He said the result met both the conditions laid down in the Constitution's Article 161 (1). According to the Article, resolution for abolishing the Council has to be passed by a majority in the Assembly and by not less than two-third of the members present in the House.

The outcome was a mere formality as the ruling YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) has a strength of 151 in the 175-member Assembly.

With the passing of the resolution moved by Chief Minister Y. S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, the state has set in motion the process to do away with the bicameral system of legislature.

"The Legislative Assembly of the State of Andhra Pradesh resolves that the Legislative Council of the state be abolished," read the one-line resolution.

The resolution will be sent to the Union Home Ministry for drafting a Bill, which will be tabled in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. The Bill will have to be cleared by both Houses of Parliament before it can be sent to the President for his assent and issuing the notification.

The resolution was passed after a nearly six-hour debate in the absence of opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP), which stayed away from the day-long special sitting to protest against the "undemocratic" move by the YSRCP government.

Replying to the debate, in which more than a dozen ruling party MLAs participated, Jagan Mohan Reddy said the step was taken to protect democracy as the Council was being misused by the opposition to create obstacles for the Bills passed by the Assembly which is directly elected by the people.

The Chief Minister said his government was proud to abolish the Council as it was being misused for political interests and was proving a burden on the state exchequer.

The government apparently found abolishing the Council as the only way as the Upper House dominated by the opposition was stalling key Bills.

The YSRCP, which has just nine members in 58-member House, would have to wait till 2021 to improve its tally.

The Chief Minister said that his party can get a majority in the Council next year but public interest is paramount for them.

Thirteen years after the Council was revived, the YSRCP has moved to abolish it again. The resolution will now be sent to the Centre to initiate the process for passing a bill in the Parliament.

Interestingly, it was Jagan Mohan Reddy's father Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy as the Chief Minister of then undivided Andhra Pradesh who had got the Council revived in 2007. This was 22 years after the Upper House was abolished during the TDP regime of N. T. Rama Rao in 1985.

Jagan Mohan Reddy's move came four days after the Legislative Council, dominated by the opposition, referred Bills to create three state capitals to a select committee. Ignoring the protest by the ruling party, Chairman Mohammed Ahmed Shariff accepted the TDP's demand to refer the Bills to the panel.

Reacting strongly to the development, the YSRCP alleged that TDP chief N. Chandrababu Naidu forced Shariff to take this decision. It alleged that the TDP was creating obstacles to making of laws by members of the state Assembly.

The passing of the resolution capped the day-long developments on abolishing the Council.

The day began with the cabinet meeting chaired by the Chief Minister resolving to abolish the Legislative Council in the wake of alleged misuse by the opposition TDP's majority to halt the bills that had been cleared in the legislative assembly.

Earlier instances include delaying and rejecting the separate commissions for SC and ST. The council had also rejected the bill to introduce English-medium education in government schools.