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Andhra Pradesh cabinet decides to abolish Legislative Council

The TDP which has 21 MLAs has decided to boycott the Assembly to indicate that the resolution to abolish the Legislative Council was taken in the absence of opposition.

The Andhra Pradesh government on Monday decided to abolish the Legislative Council, The News Minute reported. The YSR Congress Party-led Cabinet passed a resolution to the effect at a meeting in the state capital Amaravati.

Chief Minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy had last week questioned the need for a Legislative Council. While it is mandatory for all states to have a Legislative Assembly or Lower House, the decision on whether a Legislative Council is necessary is left to the Assembly. However, a two-thirds majority is needed in the Assembly, which then has to forward the recommendation for abolition of the Council to the Centre. The Parliament of India then has to vote on abolishing the state Council.

Article 169 of the Indian Constitution empowers Parliament to enact legislation providing for the abolition of the Legislative Council of a state, if the Legislative Assembly of the state passes a resolution to that effect.

The Opposition Telugu Desam Party has a majority in the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Council. On the other hand, the YSR Congress Party won 151 of the 175 seats in the Andhra Pradesh Assembly elections held last year concurrently with the Lok Sabha elections.

The extended winter session of the Andhra Pradesh Assembly will continue on Monday to possibly pass a resolution recommending the abolition of the Council. In a letter to all MLAs and MLCs, Legislature Secretary P Balakrishnamacharyulu said that there would be a “short discussion on consequences arising after Bills passed by the Legislative Assembly” on Monday.

The Telugu Desam Party, which has 21 MLAs, has decided to boycott Monday’s Assembly session.

The Cabinet meeting held earlier discussed how to proceed on three bills that are stuck in the Legislative Council. These are the Andhra Pradesh Decentralisation and Inclusive Development of All Regions Bill, 2020; the Andhra Pradesh Capital Region Development Authority Act (Repeal) Bill, and a bill for making English medium mandatory in all government schools.

The heart of the matter

The first two bills, related to creating three capitals for the state, were passed by the Assembly, PTI reported. However, Legislative Council Chairperson MA Sharrif on January 22 referred the two bills to a select committee. Following this, the chief minister told the Assembly: “We need to seriously think whether we need to have such a House which appears to be functioning with only political motives. It is not mandatory to have the Council, which is our own creation, and it is only for our convenience. So let us discuss the issue further on Monday and take a decision on whether or not to continue the Council.”

The third bill was passed twice by the Assembly, the second time after the Council suggested certain amendments. These amendments were rejected by the Assembly.

The YSR Congress Party had on December 17 last year first threatened to abolish the Legislative Council after it became clear that the Chandrababu Naidu-led Telugu Desam Party would not allow two bills related to creation of a separate commission for Scheduled Castes and conversion of all government schools into English medium to pass.

YSR Congress Party leader RK Roja, following the Cabinet meeting on Monday, told reporters that very few states have a Legislative Council. “If the Council is mocking the people’s verdict, the people feel that it’s a waste of expenses,” he said. “People have chosen Jagan and voted for 151 MLAs in the Assembly. The people of north Andhra and Rayalaseema are asking us to abolish the Council as it is blocking their progress.”

In 1985, Telugu Desam Party founder and then-Chief Minister NT Rama Rao abolished the Council. In 2007, Chief Minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy of the Congress reestablished it.

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