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Lok Sabha nod for Bill to revive Andhra Pradesh Legislative Council

Special Correspondent

CPI(M),TDP vote against it; say it is an additional burden on the exchequer

NEW DELHI: The Andhra Pradesh Legislative Council Bill — aimed at reviving the Upper House in the State — was passed by the Lok Sabha on Thursday. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) along with the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) voted against the Bill while the CPI abstained.

The CPI(M) was the first to demand a `division' (formal vote) when Union Law Minister H. R. Bhardwaj moved to introduce the Bill for passage. Within seconds, TDP leader K. Yerrannaidu joined P. Rajendran (CPI-M) in pressing for a `division' after the Chair sought to clear the introduction for passage by voice vote. The move was defeated with 93 members voting for the introduction while 25 were against and six abstained.

With many a member questioning the rationale in reviving the Legislative Council, which was abolished in 1985, Mr. Bhardwaj said: "I am obeying the resolution of the Andhra Pradesh Assembly. And, in 1985, when the then Andhra Pradesh Government led by N. T. Rama Rao sent a resolution to the Centre, seeking abolition of the Legislative Council, Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, in order to uphold the highest democratic traditions, decided to accept it despite State Congressmen opposing the move.''

Long discussion

The two-and-a-half-hour-long discussion generated considerable heat with the TDP and Congress members engaging in verbal duels time and again. Opening the debate, B. K. Deo (Bharatiya Janata Party) said the Bill was aimed at satisfying all those Congress leaders who could not be accommodated in the Legislative Assembly.

Congressman K. S. Rao's intervention resulted in a war of words between him and the TDP when the former said the `NTR regime' had moved to abolish the Legislative Council to avoid criticism of its policies. "Rajiv Gandhi's Government enjoyed an overwhelming majority at the Centre, yet the Prime Minister accepted the resolution of the Assembly and moved for the Bill to abolish the Legislative Council to be passed without discussion despite opposition from State Congressmen.''

Mr. Yerrannaidu said the TDP was opposed to the Bill in principle.

"The Legislative Council will serve no purpose as it is only an advisory body,'' he said.

Stating that his party had always been opposed to a bicameral legislature in the State, he said: "A second chamber will be an additional burden on the exchequer.''

Quota for women urged

Varkala Radhakrishnan (CPI-M) pointed out that this was the third time that the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly had passed a resolution on this issue. His party colleague M. Babu Rao said the revival of the Council would mean unnecessary expenditure to the tune of Rs. 6 crores per month.

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