Nellore/ Hyderabad: YSR Congress president Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy’s startling announcement on Tuesday in Nellore district that his party MPs will resign en masse if the Central government does not announce Special Category Status to Andhra Pradesh, is a political move taken to avoid bypolls to the seats vacated by them.
Mr Jagan Mohan Reddy said his MPs will fight for Special Status in Parliament in the second phase of the Budget session, from March 5 to April 5.
If the Centre fails to concede to their demand, they will all resign on April 6. It’s not clear whether the resignations will come from MPs in both Houses or just the Lok Sabha. Mr Reddy had made a similar announcement last year but nothing came of it.
At that time, Telugu Desam leaders, including Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, had taunted Mr Reddy that it would be better if his MPs did resign and then faced by-elections so that they could be defeated by the TDP.
This time round the Telugu Desam may resort to a similar tactic. According to sources, AP’s fight to get more allocations for its projects in the Budget will be carried out in a phased manner: stalling Parliament, then ministers quitting the Cabinet, then resignations of TDP MPs and finally announcing snapping of ties with the BJP. So far, phase 1 - stalling Parliament - has been implemented.
Act says resignation must be voluntary
If the mass resignation of MPs is aimed at forcing by-elections, then the provisions of the Representation of People’s Act, especially Section 151 (A), could stand in the way. The section clearly states that no by-poll will be conducted to a vacant seat if the remainder period of their term is less than a year.
Another provision is that the resignation must be voluntary and no reason should be mentioned for the resignation. If a reason is given, the resignation letter will be invalidated in the first instance.
Secondly, even if all the rules are followed, the Speaker/Ch-airman is not compelled to accept the resignations immediately. In fact, no time frame is given to the presiding officers to accept the resignations. Only after acceptance of the letters will the seat be declared vacant and this fact communicated to the Election Commission.
The authority to hold by-elections in the affected constituencies is vested in the Election Commission.
The next general election is scheduled for April/May 2019. If less than a year remains before that date, then under Section 151 (A) the EC will not allow by-elections.
However, if V. Vijay Sai Reddy tenders his resignation, a by-election is certain as his Rajya Sabha term ends in 2022.