The Andhra Pradesh Assembly on Monday passed a resolution to abolish the state’s Legislative Council, PTI reported. Earlier in the day, the YSR Congress Party-led government had approved the resolution at a meeting in the state capital Amaravati.

The extended winter session of the Assembly ended on Monday after the resolution was passed.

Chief Minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy had last week questioned the need for a Legislative Council. The Opposition Telugu Desam Party, which has 21 MLAs, had decided to boycott Monday’s sitting of the Assembly session, The Indian Express reported.

The YSR Congress Party had won 151 of the 175 seats in the Assembly elections held last year, but the Telugu Desam Party continues to have a majority in the 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 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.