In a volte-face, Andhra Pradesh Assembly passes resolution seeking continuation of Legislative Council

Published : November 23, 2021 21:32 IST

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy. Photo: The Hindu Archives


Almost 23 months to the day after he decided to abolish the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Council and recommended the abolition to the Central government, Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy has done a volte-face, withdrawing the previous statutory resolution that called for the Council’s abolition and pushing through a fresh resolution in the state Legislative Assembly seeking the continuation of the council. The resolution was passed by voice vote.

The Jagan Mohan Reddy government had, citing a drain on the exchequer, passed a statutory resolution under Article 169(1) of the Constitution in January 2020 seeking to abolish the State Legislative Council “purely in public interest”.

Under Article 169 of the Constitution, abolition or restitution of a Legislative Council in a State requires confirmation by Parliament. In July, Union Minister for Law and Justice Kiran Rijiju had said in the Rajya Sabha that Andhra Pradesh’s recommendation to abolish its upper house was being looked into and a decision would be taken soon.

Finance and Legislative Affairs Minister Buggana Rajendranath blamed the Centre for Andhra Pradesh’s renege. He said the Ministry of Home Affairs’ refusal to act on the Legislative Assembly’s resolution despite Andhra Pradesh constantly pursuing the matter at various levels left the State with no choice but to end the uncertainty and ambiguity.

But much has changed in the political landscape in the State since that resolution calling for the abolition of the Legislative Council was passed. Most notably, the ruling dispensation, Yuvajana Shramika Rythu Congress Party (YSRCP), which was in the minority in the 58-member upper house of the State legislature, now has a majority. Its arch rivals, the opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP), was in a majority in the Legislative Council and was delaying many a legislation, including the passage of the “Three Capitals” Bill that Jagan Mohan Reddy was keen to pass. But after the last round of elections to the council last month, the YSRCP has a tally of 33 members in the council and has the support of eight others, dwarfing the TDP’s 15.

Legislative councils have been used by many a government to accommodate more of their leaders and supporters. Only six of India’s 28 States (Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh) have a bicameral legislature. Until its bifurcation in 2019 into the Union territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh, Kashmir too had a bicameral legislature.

Interestingly, Andhra Pradesh had a unicameral legislature after its creation in 1947. In 1958, it got an upper house, but became one of the first States to abolish it in 1985, when Parliament passed the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Council (Abolition) Act, 1985. Again, heeding calls for a restitution of the Legislative Council, the Assembly passed a resolution in January 1990 which floundered. However, another resolution passed in Parliament in July 2004 enacted and revived the Legislative Council in March 2007.