Andhra Pradesh

Mindgames in Andhra Pradesh as Legislative Council stares at Endgame 

It is Mindgames season in Andhra Pradesh. With a discussion on whether to continue with the Legislative Council in the state on the anvil on Monday, the ruling YSRCP is trying to get under the Telugu Desam’s skin. With just nine MLCs in the 58-member Council, the YSRCP is in a minority. Filter Kaapi decodes for its readers what is cooking.

Jaganmohan Reddy’s speech last week in the Assembly, wondering if there was any purpose in persisting with the Upper House was not an emotional outburst. It was a calculated strategy to set the cat among the pigeons and to send a clear message to the TDP MLCs.

One option for the 25-odd TDP MLCs is to stay united behind Chandrababu Naidu, block legislation that is passed in the Assembly with its strength in the Council. It has done so with the Education Bill and now with the Bill to decentralise administration and establish three capital cities, both embarrassing and angering the government. 

The other is to move over to the YSRCP camp. Two MLCs have already done so and if the YSRCP leadership is to be believed, many more are in touch. This may just about enable these MLCs to save the Council from getting disbanded altogether and as a result, lose their perks and position. 

The Council over the years, has been a rehabilitation centre for several leaders who either lost the direct elections or do not command the wherewithal to get elected as MLAs. 

The ruling party is also holding out the threat of splitting the TDP legislature party in the Assembly. Naidu has 22 MLAs now in the House and Jagan’s political advisor Sajjala Ramakrishna Reddy claimed 17 of them were in touch with the YSRCP. The fact that six MLCs did not attend the meeting summoned by Naidu over the weekend, only added masala to the conspiracy theories.

But though Jagan pointed to the Rs 60 crore that is spent on running the Council, even the YSRCP would not wish to do away with the Council for two reasons. One, it was revived by YS Rajasekhara Reddy in 2007 and two, it will give Jagan an opportunity to accommodate party leaders through its term till 2024 and gain a majority by next year. 

Three, it will depend on the BJP to get Parliament’s sanction if the Council is to be disbanded. That may take time and till then the Council will continue to exist. 

The TDP is playing reverse mindgames. It says Jagan is talking of abolishing the Council because he failed to lure both MLAs and MLCs to his side and are using the CM’s speech to underline his alleged contempt for democratic opposition. Of course, it is conveniently ignored that TDP founder and former chief minister NT Rama Rao had done away with the Council in 1985 because he was irked with Congress leader K Rosaiah’s repeated criticism of his government.  

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