The opposition YSR Congress today said that it would boycott the Budget session of the Andhra Pradesh Legislature starting here tomorrow. The ruling TDP and the BJP, in the absence of the YSRC from the session, claimed that they would be “the government as well as the opposition”. The YSR Congress said that it would boycott the session till its demand, of disqualification of 22 of its MLAs who crossed over to the Telugu Desam Party, was met. The 22 MLAs include four ministers in the Chandrababu Naidu Cabinet. “If the Speaker acts against the 22 defectors, we will certainly attend the session,” YSRC MP V Vijayasai Reddy and Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council Ummareddy Venkateswarlu said. “We have also submitted a second petition to the Speaker seeking their disqualification,” they pointed out.
Meanwhile, the TDP announced that it would play the role of government as well as the opposition in the session that begins tomorrow. “Our leader (Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu) has clearly asked our legislators to unhesitatingly raise public issues and even offer constructive criticism. We are the government and we are the opposition as well. We don’t need any other opposition,” state Information and Public Relations Minister Kalva Srinivasulu told PTI. TDP leaders said that it would initiate special discussions on at least 27 subjects, including the AP Reorganisation Act, 2014, the Central assistance to the state in the last three-and-a-half years, construction of the state capital city Amaravati, the interlinking of Godavari-Krishna-Penna rivers and double-digit economic growth of the state.
The BJP said that it too was geared up to play the role of the opposition in the House. “We will maintain ‘coalition dharma’ but we will not shy away from raising issues of public concern. Since the main opposition (YSRC) will not be attending the session, we will play that role as far as people’s issues are concerned,” BJP floor leader in the Assembly P Vishnu Kumar Raju said. The BJP will seek to counter the TDP’s claims on what the Centre did for the state, party leaders said. The slugfest between the TDP and the BJP that began a day after the presentation of Union Budget 2018-19 on February 1 is expected to find a new stage in the Legislature, political observers here said.
Assembly Speaker Kodela Sivaprasada Rao, without dwelling on the disqualification issue raised by the YSRC, today appealed to the party to attend the Budget session. “This (Assembly) is a sacred platform. You may talk anything outside but that’s not equal to the discussions in the House. So, please make use of the platform and offer suggestions to the government. You may also criticise if there are any lapses (in the administration), but make use of the platform. It is your responsibility,” the Speaker remarked.
Kodela said he had personally spoken to some YSRC leaders on the issue. “It will be good if they (YSRC legislators) come to the House,” the Speaker added. The Budget session will begin with the address by Governor E S L Narasimhan to the joint sitting of the Legislative Council and Legislative Assembly at 9.30 am on Monday. The Business Advisory Committee will meet thereafter and decide on the business of the House and the duration of the session.
It is expected that the Budget session will continue till March 28 or 29. State Finance Minister Yanamala Ramakrishnudu will present the Budget for 2018-19 on March 8. Besides special discussions on different subjects, the government will also move some new legislations like the police reforms, and granting statutory status to the AP Economic Development Board and the State Industrial Promotion Board, official sources said.