Stating that the state Legislative Council is functioning only to delay the bills passed by the Assembly for political reasons, Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy on January 27 said that he is proud of abolishing the Council before he introduced the statutory resolution to abolish the legislative council, which was passed in the Andhra Pradesh Assembly.
While the political parties reacted in a mixed manner, independently elected sitting Members of Legislative Council (MLCs) have termed the move undemocratic and vindictive in nature on the part of the ruling YSR Congress Party.
As the main opposition Telugu Desam Party boycotted the Assembly session to mark their protest against the move, the abolishment resolution was passed with a majority of 133 votes in its favour. Subsequently, the state government on Tuesday has sent the resolution to the Ministry of Home Affairs for consideration.
It is now left for Parliament to decide on the resolution and till then, the legislative council continues to function under existing laws.
Five MLCs representing Progressive Democratic Front (PDF) have condemned the move as undemocratic. “Since 2007, when the legislative council came into force in the erstwhile Andhra Pradesh, the council has been a platform to diligently address the issues concerning workers, government and private employees, teachers, outsourced workers and farmers among other sections of people. We strongly oppose the manner of the ruling government to abolish the council just because the council has sent the three capitals bill to a select committee,” said K S Lakshmana Rao while speaking to NewsClick.
Currently, of the 58 members in the state Legislative Council, TDP has the highest strength with 28 members, followed by nine members from YSR Congress, eight nominated members, five from PDF, three independent members, and two members from BJP, while three seats are vacant.
On January 20, the state Assembly has passed the ‘Andhra Pradesh Decentralisation and Inclusive Development of all Regions Bill, 2020’ that mandates setting up of three capitals with Amaravati as the legislative capital, Visakhapatnam as the executive capital and Kurnool as the legal capital.
The state high court on January 23 has ordered status quo on relocating the capital from Amaravati while hearing a set of public interest litigations filed by farmers from the Amaravati region opposing the bill. The next hearing is scheduled on February 26.
Among the reasons put forward for the sudden decision, Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy told Assembly that the functioning of the Legislative Council would cost the state Rs 60 crore every year and that the current economic condition of the state is worrisome.
Interestingly, the legislative council in the state was the brainchild of late Y S Rajashekara Reddy in 2007, who was then the CM of erstwhile Andhra Pradesh and father of Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy.
TDP Chief Chandrababu Naidu has criticised the move as unreasonable and intolerant one. He claimed that the present council is composed by a majority of members representing OBCs, SCs, STs and minorities.
Rama Krishna, Secretary of CPI in the state said to media that the CM has been committing numerous mistakes in the rule. He alleged that the resolution was passed only after the YSR Congress failed to poach the opposition parties MLCs to their state.
On the other side, the farmers of Amaravati region have been protesting against the three capital plan. The previous TDP government has acquired over 33,000 acres of land from the region for the construction of capital there. According to TDP leaders, the previous government has already invested more than Rs 10,000 crore for Amaravati construction. However, CM Jagan Mohan Reddy alleged that the TDP has committed massive corruption in setting up the capital there and also argued that the region is flood prone and not sustainable as capital in the future.