The ruling YSR Congress party in Andhra Pradesh has won all the six seats in the state legislative council without any election, taking its strength in the 58-member council to 20.
On Thursday, the last day for filing of nominations for the six MLC seats under MLAs’ quota, only YSRC candidates filed their papers and the opposition Telugu Desam Party stayed away from the contest as it does not have enough numbers in the assembly to field its candidates.
As a result, all the six YSRC candidates – Balli Kalyan Chakravarthy, Challa Bhagiratha Reddy, Mohammad Iqbal, Duvvada Srinivas, C Ramachandraiah and Kareemunnisa – are elected to the stat3e legislative council unanimously.
“An official declaration of the elected candidates will be done on March 8, after the last date for withdrawal of nominations,” an official in the state legislature secretariat said.
Of the six YSRC members, Kalyan Chakravarthi is the son of former Tirupati MP late Balli Durgaprasada Rao and Bhagiratha Reddy is the son of former MLC Challa Ramakrishna Reddy. Both Durgaprasada Rao and Ramakrishna Reddy died of Covid-19 in the last six months.
Interestingly, the election of the six YSRC members comes at a time when a resolution adopted by the Jagan Mohan Reddy government in the state assembly in January 2020, seeking abolition of the legislative council, is still pending with the Union home ministry.
During the adoption of the resolution on January 27 last year, the chief minister strongly pitched for the abolition of the legislative council stating that it had become a burden on the state exchequer and a stumbling block in the government’s efforts to pass crucial bills.
Jagan took the decision to abolish the legislative council with the TDP, which had 30 members in the 58-member council as against 10 members of YSRC, stalled the passage of several bills, including the most crucial bill for the formation of three capitals for decentralisation of administration and also the one on introduction of English medium in the government schools.
He also argued that the state government was incurring ₹60 crore annual expenditure on the council and a poor state like AP could not afford it.
Subsequently, the number of YSRC members in the legislative council gradually started going up, as the vacancies arose. Former TDP MLCs Dokka Manikya Varaprasad and Pothula Sunitha, who resigned from their posts, got re-elected to the council on YSRC tickets. Two other YSRC leaders – Pandula Ravindra Babu and Zakia Khanum– were nominated to the council under the governor’s quota, taking the YSRC tally to 14.
By June, the YSRC is expected to get absolute majority in the legislative council when some more sitting members complete their term. There would be 10 vacancies under local bodies’ quota and the YSRC is expecting to win all of them, besides three more seats under the Governor’s quota.
“By June 9, the YSRC is going to get absolute majority in the state legislative council. We are sure to win all the seats in the elections to be held for the vacant seats,” government whip G Srikanth Reddy said.
Asked whether the state government has dropped its resolution sent to the Centre seeking abolition of the legislative council, Reddy said no such decision had been taken. “It is for the Centre to take a decision. Till such time, filling up of the vacancies arising in the council is a Constitutional obligation,” he said.
A senior YSRC leader, quoting anonymity, said the Jagan government will not pursue the matter with the Centre on abolition of the council. “When we get enough strength in the council, why should we insist on the abolition? At the same time, we shall not withdraw our proposal,” he said.