The Andhra Pradesh assembly is all set to decide the fate of the legislative council on Monday. The development comes in the wake of the main Opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) delaying two bills dealing with the decentralization of Andhra Pradesh’s capital in the upper House, where the TDP has 27 MLCs out of the total 58.
The ruling YSR Congress Party (YSRCP), miffed with constant opposition in the council, may decide to dissolve it by passing a resolution in the assembly. This will be a cake walk for the YSRCP, led by chief minister Y. S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, as it holds 151 out of the total 175 seats in the assembly.
Last week, during a special winter assembly session, the TDP created a roadblock for the YSRCP in the council by sending the Andhra Pradesh Capital Region Development Authority Repeal Bill 2020 and the Andhra Pradesh Decentralisation and Inclusive Development of all Regions Bill 2020 to a select committee for further deliberation, after it was passed in the assembly.
Once they reach the select committee, the bills, which deal with decentralizing the state’s capital between Amaravati, Visakhapatnam and Kurnool, will have to be deliberated upon for one to three months, after which it will be sent back to the assembly. However, if the assembly passess the bills for a second time, it will be deemed to have been passed in the council any way, as the powers of the upper House are limited.
The TDP has been creating roadblocks for the YSRCP by rejecting bills passed by the assembly. Scared that the YSRCP might try to poach its MLCs, the TDP, led by former Andhra Pradesh chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, convened a meeting with its legislators in the upper House on Sunday. “We have 27 people in the council, of which 23 people showed up as four sought permission and skipped the meeting,” said a TDP leader on condition of anonymity.
“The assembly on Monday does not have any agenda as such and the only untold subject is the issue of dissolving the council. In case the council is not scrapped, the YSRCP might try to take away our MLCs,” said the TDP leader mentioned above.
“It is not yet clear as to what will happen to the two bills, as the select committee will decide what to do with it. If the council is gone, then the bills will automatically be passed. The ruling party has a full-fledged majority in the assembly, so Jagan does not really need the council, which has a controversial history given that it was done away with by former chief minister N. T. Rama Rao and was later reinstated by Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy (Jagan’s father) when he was chief minister,” said E. Venkatesu, a faculty member at the Hyderabad university’s political science department.
In December 2019, the state government had appointed an expert committee headed by G.N. Rao, which recommended that Visakhapatnam be made the executive capital and Kurnool in the Rayalaseema region the legal capital with the high court based there. The committee suggested that Amaravati could house the governor’s office and the assembly, thus becoming the legislative capital.
The state government then set up a high-power committee to examine the recommendations of the expert committee.
AP municipal administration minister Botsa Satyanarayana, in a statement, said a clear decision from the government on dissolving the legislative council, irrespective of how much time it takes, will be taken on Monday.