In the first seven months of Jaganmohan Reddy’s tenure as chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, if there is one running theme, it is to reverse just about every decision taken by his predecessor Chandrababu Naidu. In fact, the government is referred to in jest as a Reverse Government.
But in what may be a first, Jagan may be considering reversing a decision taken by his father, the late YS Rajasekhara Reddy. In 2007, YSR had restored the Legislative Council in united Andhra Pradesh, 22 years after it was abolished by the late NT Rama Rao. The reasons for decisions taken by both NTR and YSR were interesting and a commentary on how politics dictates Parliamentary practises, which should otherwise be cast in stone.
In 1985, NTR decided to do away with the Council because the Congress under the leadership of K Rosaiah gave the ruling Telugu Desam a tough time. For NTR, doing away with the Council meant silencing the voice of the opposition. YSR restored it not out of love for a more nuanced debate on issues but to accommodate several Congress leaders who had either lost the elections or did not have the political muscle to get elected as MLAs. The Council over the years has been a rehabilitation centre for several such leaders.
According to sources, Jagan may be mulling abolishing the bicameral legislature in Andhra Pradesh because important Bills moved by his government and passed in the Assembly where the YSRCP has a brute majority (151/175) are getting blocked in the Upper House. There the TDP has a clear majority with 25 of the 58 members (50 elected and 8 nominated) while the YSRCP has just 9 MLCs. The most recent Bill that has been blocked in the Council is the one dealing with three capitals for Andhra Pradesh and has therefore become a prestige issue for Jagan.
Given the present numbers, the TDP will protest against such a move, forgetting that it had done something similar under NTR. Interestingly, when YSR revived the Council, Naidu had criticised it calling it a burden on the exchequer and had boycotted its inaugural programme. To now proclaim love for the Council would be political hypocrisy. Incidentally, Naidu’s son Nara Lokesh is an MLC.
But will Jagan make such a move? That’s because there is a long list of YSRCP leaders waiting to be given positions of some prominence and the Council where the YSRCP could win several seats in the next round of elections, is a good option.
Two, while moving a resolution to abolish the Council with 2/3 rd majority in the Assembly is not an issue for Jagan, the decision will need Parliament’s approval. Will the BJP play ball, is something Jagan cannot be sure of, given the saffron party’s aggressive posturing on Amaravati.