The Budget Session of the Andhra Pradesh legislature concluded on Wednesday amid pandemonium, which, in itself, was no surprise. The rivalry between the ruling YSRC and opposition TDP has gone up a few notches with the recent arrest of two leaders of the latter in separate cases and the brief session was expected to be stormy. What the state was not prepared for was the tussle turning physical, that too in the Legislative Council. The Upper House, to disband which the Assembly had passed a resolution in the last session, is yet to be scrapped by Parliament. So, it exists, giving the TDP, which has a majority in the Council unlike in the Assembly, an opportunity to delay legislations.
The trigger for the latest face-off was the TDP’s insistence on a discussion under Rule 90 without passing or rejecting the Decentralisation and Capital Region Development Authority Repeal Bills—both of which were referred to a select committee under controversial circumstances this January. The government passed the bills for the second time in the Assembly and sent them to the Council for approval—its reasoning being that almost five months have elapsed since they were first sent to the Upper House. If the Council doesn’t act on them now too, the Bills would be deemed to have been passed after a month. If the government was trying to push through the Bills, the TDP was seeking to maintain status quo. Each party can adopt its strategy as is the practice. But surely, physical assaults cannot be a strategy. Over the years, we have seen much worse in Assemblies of different states. It reflects poorly on our temples of democracy.
The unsavoury episode could lead to violence as tempers rise among cadres of the two parties.The incident also raises several other questions. When the Assembly has adopted a resolution to scrap the Council, why is it that it continues to exist? How could Parliament sit on it indefinitely? Will the Council, which has come to such a pass where members are ready to lunge at one another, serve any purpose? We think not.