AP Assembly Sets New Tradition, Set To Be Potential Practice For Future

Dara Gopi

Amaravati: The Andhra Pradesh Assembly has been witnessing unruly scenes for the past two days. Though the debate started on doing justice to the victims of the AgriGold, a private real estate and entertainment company that had collected deposits from people in nine States, it took the ugliest turn leading to commotion and finally the ruling party adopting a resolution condemning the attitude of the Leader of Opposition. This was perhaps for the first time a legislature adopts a resolution condemning the attitude of the Opposition leader.

It all began with Leader of Opposition Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy alleging that the properties including the lands belonging to the company were acquired and purchased by the ruling party leaders including Minister for Agriculture Prathipati Pulla Rao’s family. At this point the Minister intervened and challenged the Leader of Opposition to prove his charges or quit politics. The Minister’s challenge had come in handy for Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu and Minister for Legislative Affairs Yanamala Ramakrishnudu who wanted the Leader of Opposition to accept the challenge and be prepared to quit politics or apologise to the House. Another Minister K Atchennaidu and other members did not allow the House to take up any business or rather mounted pressure on Speaker Kodela Sivaprasada Rao to insist on Jagan Mohan Reddy to accept the challenge.

In politics challenges and counter challenges by the leaders is not new and particularly when it comes to the Opposition, allegations are not an uncommon. Sitting for 15 years in Opposition, the TDP knows how it behaved in the Assembly. Even today, sitting in the Opposition in the neighbouring Telangana State, the TDP makes allegations against the ruling TRS both in the House and outside. One wonders how an issue which is justifiable for TDP as Opposition in Telangana Assembly becomes unjust in Andhra Pradesh Assembly. Even if challenges and counter challenges are to be taken seriously, the Opposition in AP Assembly had made similar challenges several times including seeking resignation of the 21 legislators who have defected. The TDP or Minister for Legislative Affairs may say that the issue is not in the purview of the government. But the fact is that the issue is in the purview of the Speaker who can take a decision. In AP Assembly, the Speaker who insisted on the Leader of Opposition to accept the challenge should also take similar proactive stand to disqualify the legislators and ask the ruling party to face the challenge.

Ironically, the AP Speaker who claims that he would not allow the members to deviate from the subject on the Floor of House, deviated completely from the subject the other day and directed screening of video footage of his Meet the Press programme held in February where his comments on cars and women have become controversial. He deviated from the debate on AgriGold and screened the video footage in the Assembly for the first time to shift blame on the media group owned by the Leader of Opposition. There was no reference from the Opposition to his statements but the Speaker allowed the members to target Jagan Mohan Reddy. Ironically, the Speaker and the ruling party conveniently ignored the fact that his statement on cars and women were prominently presented by the national media, both print and electronic.

The fact is that the resolution adopted by the State Assembly condemning the attitude of the Leader of Opposition by the TDP-BJP-led Assembly would sure be a potential weapon for the future ruling parties to suppress the voice of the Opposition. The TDP, which is now in power, might have to face a similar resolution, which would be a bad practice for democracy.

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