By BVS Bhaskar
AMARAVATI: The bicameral legislature will be a thing of the past in Andhra Pradesh, as the AP Cabinet has taken a crucial decision on Monday, 27 January 2020, recommending abolition of AP Legislative Council which was considered as a roadblock as well as hurdle to pass vital bills. The Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy had also taken the decision in Business Advisory Committee meeting to introduce the bill in the extended Assembly session on Monday, which was subsequently introduced in the House.
The present Legislative Council is in existence from 10th January 2007.
Earlier, YS Jagan had stated in the Assembly on Saturday that the Legislative Council, which is considered as Elders’ House, is not allowing good governance and blocking crucial bills introduced for the welfare of the state. "What will be the meaning of governance if the House of Elders does not allow good decisions to be taken in the interest of people and block enactment of laws? We need to seriously think about it...whether we should have such a House or do away with it," the Chief Minister said in the Assembly. YS Jagan expressed his anguish over the hurdles created by the Council rather than providing guidance. "The Council's function is politically motivated. We are spending Rs.60 crore per annum on the Council. Thus, we incur Rs.300 crore on it in five years. Being a poor state, can we afford this burden?" he said, also pointing out that only six states in the country have legislative councils, while 22 do not have.
After the Assembly passes the bill to abolish council, it will go to both houses of Parliament and then for President’s assent.
ONLY IN SIX STATES:
This will be the second time that the AP Legislative Council was abolished in the state of Andhra Pradesh. There are only six states in the country where the Legislative Councils still exist.
Last year, Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Council was abolished as the Union Government has repealed Article 370. There are several states where the Councils were abolished long back including Assam, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal. No Legislative Council was formed in other states like Delhi, Himachal Pradesh and Odisha, Uttarakhand and Rajasthan.
The AP State Legislative Council was first constituted on July 7, 1958 under Article 168 of the Constitution and inaugurated by the then President Dr Rajendra Prasad.
Madapati Hanumantha Rao was its first Chairman. The council was abolished by the previous Telugu Desam government on May 31, 1985 since the then chief minister N T Rama Rao felt that it was redundant and caused a drain on the state exchequer.
It may be recalled that Andhra Pradesh was one of the first states to seek the abolition of the upper houses, which were being increasingly criticised as being unnecessary, unrepresentative of the population, a burden on the state budget and causing delays in passing legislation.
AFTER GAP OF 22 YEARS:
However, the same legislative council had come into existence once again on 10th January 2007, after a gap of 22 years.
If anyone goes into the history, it is believed that the real reason was that NTR found it difficult to push through controversial legislations and policy decisions in the Upper House, which was at that time dominated by the Congress.
Incidentally, it was the Congress government at the Centre under Rajiv Gandhi's stewardship that enacted AP Legislative Council (Abolition) Act, despite stiff opposition from state Congress leaders who argued that scrapping the council was against the party's interests in the state.
ATTEMPT MADE TO REVIVE:
Later, in 1990, the then Congress government made an attempt for revival of the council but in vain. Subsequently, the Congress again promised revival of the council in its manifesto for 2004 assembly polls. After snatching power from the Telugu Desam Party, the Congress made fresh efforts to revive the council.
Basing on a resolution passed by the state legislative assembly, the UPA government enacted the AP Legislative Council Bill in December 2005 for revival of the council. The Bill received the President's assent in January 2006 but it took almost a year for the Election Commission to complete the formalities for constitution of the council and for the conduct of elections to fill the seats under various categories in the reconstituted Upper House.