BHOPAL: The Madhya Pradesh government has initiated primary discussion on creation of a legislative council as promised in the manifesto of the ruling Congress, but leaders of the opposition BJP have come out against the proposal.
Madhya Pradesh has a unicameral legislature - meaning it has only one house - legislative assembly or Vidhan Sabha.
"The chief minister (Kamal Nath) had promised formation of a legislative council (the upper house) in Madhya Pradesh. The process of formation of the council includes getting approvals from the cabinet, the assembly and the Centre. The process has been started, "Law and Legislative Affairs Minister P C Sharma told reporters here on Tuesday.
He said the first meeting, part of primary discussion on the councils formation, was convened on Tuesday.
The Congress minister said there are about half a dozen states which have the bicameral system of legislature - having both assembly and council.
The proposed upper house in MP, promised by the Congress in its manifesto, is likely to have around 75 members, the minister said.
The state has a 230-member legislative assembly.
BJP leaders, however, opposed the move, saying the Congress government will put additional financial burden on the states exchequer by forming the legislative council.
"I personally oppose this move. I do not see any other reason behind the move except that the Congress regime wants to increase the number of cabinet members. This (setting up of council) would put additional financial burden of Rs 100 crore on the cash-strapped state exchequer in five years," senior BJP leader and former minister Narottam Mishra told reporters.
Mishra questioned the rationale behind setting up the council, which members are not directly elected by voters, but they can be inducted as ministers.
What are the benefits to the state with formation of Vidhan Parishad? What the state is losing without the council? There is no need of the council in the state," he said.
State BJP vice-president and MLA Rameshwar Sharma said the move is aimed at "adjusting" Congress leaders who are not able to "enjoy power".
"Formation of the legislative council is nothing but a way to oblige Congress leaders who are angry because they are out of the government.
"But before forming the council, the Congress government should tell the people what happened to unfulfilled promises of farm loan waiver, unemployment allowance and pension to destitute, among others, Sharma said.
The BJP MLA said roads across the Congress-ruled state are in a bad shape and government employees are not getting salaries on time.
Meanwhile, Chief Secretary S R Mohanty Tuesday held a meeting with officials of different departments to prepare the roadmap for formation of the legislative council, said a Public Relations Department officer.