Is legislative Council formation so easy?

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Is legislative Council formation so easy?

Saturday, 16 June 2018 | PNS | BHUBANESWAR

Amidst criticism from opposition parties, the BJD Government has started preparation for formation of a legislative Council in the State.

Critics allege that the Council formation idea came to Chief Minister and BJD chief Naveen Patnaik in order to rehabilitate its leaders as the ruling party has housed more politicians than the seats available in the Odisha legislative Assembly.

The criticism is sharp this time as the State Government has re-initiated a process after a gap of over three years. Though the process of Council formation was made way back in 2015, the Government went on sleeping over the file and felt its requirement now when Assembly elections are due in less than a year.

The ruling party, which also intends to poach more leaders before the elections, feels that it requires adequate berths to accommodate them.

The party can field maximum 147 candidates for the Assembly and 21 candidates for the lok Sabha polls. The number together comes to 168, while the ruling party has many more aspirants, almost double the required number.

Though it can accommodate some leaders in the State-run corporations, they are not sufficient to provide a respectable position to a large number of aspirants. In case, the State becomes able to set up a legislative Council, the ruling party may accommodate about 40 leaders.

The proposed legislative Council will have maximum of 49 members and not less than 40 members. It will have one-third of the members of the number of seats in the State Assembly. looking at the present strength of the ruling party, Patnaik may rehabilitate more than 35 members in the Council. However, is it possible now to set up the Council so fast and provide accommodation to these leadersIJ

The plan to accommodate the leaders after 2019 Assembly elections may also not be possible as it requires at least two years to go through the procedure. Though the Union Cabinet has cleared Assam to form a legislative Council on November 28, 2013, it is yet to be established in the north-east State. Five years after the Union Cabinet’s nod, Assam is yet to get a legislative Council.

The formation of a legislative Council is not that easy as being talked about. Only seven States, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Telangana and Uttar Pradesh, have such Councils. Though West Bengal earlier had such a Council, it was abolished way back in 1969.

The legislative Council or the Vidhan Parishad is the Upper Chamber of the State legislature. The Union Parliament has the power to create or abolish the legislative Council in various States on the basis of resolutions adopted by two thirds majority in the respective Assembly.

Article 169 has given power to the States to set up the Council or abolish it.

All the members of the legislative Council are either indirectly elected or nominated by the Governor.

One-third of the members of this House are elected by the legislative Assembly from amongst persons who are not its members. Again, one-third of its members are elected by the local bodies like Municipalities or District Boards or any other local authority as specified by the law of the Parliament. One-twelfth of the members are elected by graduates of at least three years standing.

One-twelfth of the members are elected by teachers of secondary schools having at least three years experience. About one-sixth of the members are nominated by the Governor from among persons possessing special knowledge and experience in the field of art, science, literature, social service and cooperative movement.

Any Indian citizen who is 30 years of age or above having such other qualifications as prescribed by the Parliament can become a member of the Vidhan Parishad. Of course, a person cannot simultaneously be a Member of Parliament and State legislature.

The legislative Council, like the Council of States, is a permanent chamber, not subject to dissolution. The members are elected for a period of six years. like Rajya Sabha, one-third of members retire every second year. The legislative Council elects its Chairman and Deputy Chairman from amongst its members.

Meanwhile, the State Government’s special committee on the subject has visited Karnataka and Maharashtra. But this is not sufficient as these two States had legislative Councils before formation of the respective legislative Assemblies.

Therefore, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on June 5 approved a proposal to visit the States like Andhra Pradesh and Bihar where legislative Councils come up after their respective Assemblies.

Though the State leadership is in a mood to set up a legislative Council in the State, most of the Ministers, sources said, do not like such an extended platform.

This is because the members of the legislative Council can become Ministers as in the Parliament. As such, Odisha can take maximum 22 Ministers including the Chief Minister. Now many ministerial aspirants are suffering due to lack of vacancy. If a legislative Council is formed, the aspiring MlAs will have additional problems. The number of aspirants for Ministers will increase.

This apart, the State exchequer will have to spend more towards salaries, accommodation and other amenities of the Council members.

The Council will have its Chairman and Deputy Chairman who will enjoy the status of Cabinet Ministers in the State.

Therefore, questions are raised whether Odisha at all requires a legislative CouncilIJ As such, it has been observed that the Assembly does not function properly. The State Government also appears to have no interest in running the Assembly for more days. If a legislative Council is formed, it may create further problems for the ruling party.

As such, the Council has no power like the Assembly. It cannot make or break a Government or even has the ability to say ‘no’ to Finance Bills. Keeping all these facts in view, one wonders how a legislative Council will be beneficial for the State other than rehabilitating some leaders.

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