As the row over Jaganmohan Reddy government’s decision to abolish the legislative council has kicked up a massive controversy, it is not the first time such a move has been implemented in the state of Andhra Pradesh.
Andhra Pradesh assembly voted in favour of a bicameral parliamentary system in 1956, when a resolution passed under article 168 of the constitution, created the Vidhan Parishad or the legislative council. It was in 1958 when it was finally implemented and was inaugurated by the then president of India.
Ironically, TDP was in power when the legislative council was first abolished by Andhra Pradesh in 1985. Although there was a murmur of the council being vested with undue influence and a waste of the exchequer's money, the move to abolish was severely criticised as the TDP's political move to curtail the influence of the opposition, Congress(I).
After coming back to power in 1989, the Congress(I), under the then Chief Minister Marri Reddy, passed a resolution to revive the council. Despite getting passed in the upper house of the parliament, Rajya Sabha, the resolution could not pass through Lok Sabha and thus not come into existence.
It wasn't until December 2004, when Congress was again in power that another resolution for the revival of the council was passed. By March 2007, the bill was passed by both houses of parliament and received the president's signature too, bringing it into existence.
But the saga of abolishment and revival of the legislative council in Andhra Pradesh has seen many twists as it was the TDP, which is vehemently against the abolishment currently, had taken the same road. Also ironically, current Chief Minister's father, Y Rajashekhar Reddy had revived the council in 2004, apparently to rehabilitate close political aides.
Legislative council exist only in six out of the 28 states in the country-28 States Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Jammu and Kashmir and Andhra Pradesh. The council was abolished in Assam, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal over the last few decades.
The legislative council of Andhra Pradesh has 58 members of which 27 belong to the opposition party, TDP while YSRCP has just 9 members. Whereas in the assembly, the YSRCP holds sway with 151 of the 175 legislators belonging to the ruling party.
Article 169 of the constitution says that ‘Parliament may by law provide for the abolition of the Legislative Council of a State having such a Councillor for the creation of such a Council in a State having no such Council if the Legislative Assembly of the State passes a resolution to that effect by a majority of the total membership of the Assembly and by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members of the Assembly present and voting’.