National

Will Jagan emulate NTR?

M Somasekhar Hyderabad | Updated on January 22, 2020

Andhra Pradesh CM YS Jaganmohan Reddy   -  THE HINDU

Will Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy emulate NT Rama Rao or go with his father YS Rajasekhara Reddy’s move with respect to the future of the State Legislative Council?

This is a hot topic in political circles with the AP Legislative Council (APLC) putting spokes in the ‘Grand Plans’ of Jagan in creating three capitals and a decentralised model of development.

The House, where the opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP), led by his bitter political rival N Chandrababu, has a clear majority, can be a major irritant for at least half of Jagan’s term (upto 2024) and plans.

In view of this stark reality, political observers feel 47-year old Jagan will have no option but to follow in the footsteps of NTR, the founder of Telugu Desam Party (TDP), who scrapped it in 1985 after coming to power in 1983 and suffering it for two years.

Despite getting the two Bills — creation of the three capitals and repeal of the AP Capital Region Development Authority, passed by the Legislative Assembly, the government is facing trouble in the Upper House.

With a commanding strength of 151 in the 175-member Assembly, the Jagan government can have it easy in getting through their legislations democratically. The TDP with 23 is no match. But, with a strength of 28 out of 58 against the ruling party’s nine in the Council, it can create trouble.

Interestingly, the Jagan government has already initiated the ground work in Delhi and with the Narendra Modi-led NDA government towards abolishing the Council, according to sources.

The YSR Congress has been extending issue-based support to the Modi government after Jagan swept to power in the State in April-May, 2019. The BJP, though in the opposition in AP, has been playing a tactful game so far. “Neither can it go along with the YSR Congress nor can it be outrightly critical at this juncture, given its ambitions to grow in AP, where its strength does not count now.”

The larger issue on the importance or relevance of the Council in the national scenario also is being raised as a key point to examine. At present less than half a dozen states have bicameral legislatures. These include AP, Bihar, Telangana, Maharastra, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh.

Given, the strained financial situation of AP, what is the relevance of having a Council, which is only a drain and serves to cater to favouring the political and other influential classes, argue YSR Congress leaders.

NTR & Council

In 1983, the Telugu film’s superstar NT Rama Rao delivered a crushing defeat on the Cong (I). He had radical ideas and being autocratic and a man in a hurry he tried to bring in drastic changes. But to his surprise, he found the Legislative Council, dominated by the Congress frustrating his moves.

NTR, the TDP founder, the charismatic and forceful orator that he was, got the Council abolished in 1985 describing it as a burden on the exchequer. Further, he argued that it was only delaying legislation aimed at the good of poor people.

The Council is a house of the unelected, mainly handing out favours to politicians and wasting public money. Interestingly, when the Cong (I) came back to power in 1989 through M Chenna Reddy, it tried to revive the Council. But he lost the CM post quickly, and in five years, the Cong (I) foisted three more CMs and got entangled in internal politics.

The TDP, which came back to power in 1994 with NTR again at the helm also got caught entangled in an internal power struggle, which saw the emergence of Chandrababu Naidu in 1995. He too did not bother about the revival of the Council.

YSR & the Council

Ironically, it was YS Rajasekhara Reddy, father of YS Jagan, who as Chief Minister (2004-09) got the Council revived in 2007.

Though Jagan has started replicating all the successful welfare measures of YSR that he promised in the run-up to the polls, and also christening them after his father, in the case of the Council, he is all set to differ.

Like NTR, Jagan, though young, is a man in a hurry, who wants to be a change-maker and leave his imprint on the State. To this end, he has started making quick moves with a slew of welfare measures and now the three-capital model, which will effectively erase the ‘grand vision of Naidu’s world-class capital of Amaravati’.

It is also no secret that Jagan does not believe in having an opposition, be it within the party or outside. YSR too brooked no criticism, but mellowed and matured through his term.

Published on January 22, 2020

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