LS Speaker Sumitra Mahajan left for a 10-day long foreign tour today, 10 June.
There is no clarity on whether, or not, byelections will be held on the five Lok Sabha seats vacated by YSR Congress MPs as the formal acceptance of their resignations got further delayed. Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, who has to formally accept the resignations, left for a 10-day long foreign tour this weekend and will be back in the country only on 18 June.
Mahajan’s tour started with a visit to Belarus from today, 10 June. She will then visit Latvia from 14 to 16 June and Finland on 17 and 18 June. The Lok Sabha secretariat officials had prepared a file on the MPs’ resignations and had sent it to her on the night of 6 June. They had expected that Mahajan would have signed the relevant papers before embarking on her foreign tour, but that did not happen.
When Mahajan returns on 18 June, she may sign the papers.
The Speaker had almost indicated to the MPs on 6 June that their resignations would be accepted and that only a formal notification was due. But YSR Congress MP from Tirupati V. Varaprasada Rao told The Sunday Guardian that the officials in the LS secretariat had told the five MPs that Mahajan had not signed the file notifying their papers.
The Speaker had specifically called the MPs to verify that they had resigned as per their own will and consent, on 6 June and had asked them to give her letters re-confirming their decision to quit. The five MPs had done that immediately. They had resigned on 6 April, which was the last day of Parliament’s Budget session. The resignations were submitted in protest of the Centre’s failure to grant a special category status to Andhra Pradesh.
As per the provisions of the Representation of People’s Act 1951 Section 151 A (a), the Election Commission has the right to not hold byelection to a seat vacated by a member of Parliament or state Assemblies, if the reminder period of their term is less than a year. As the current Lok Sabha’s term expires by 3 June, it is doubtful that bypolls in the constituencies vacated by YSR Congress MPs will be held.
YSR Congress president Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy wanted his MPs to quit their seats and win again in the ensuing byelections in order to prove that they enjoyed the mandate of the people in their struggle for a special category status for the state. In fact, Jagan had been waiting for an opportune time for the past two years to make this extreme step.
Jagan was keen on going for byelections on the special status issue which evokes strong sentiment among the people. He hopes this would cement his support base against the ruling TDP ahead of the next general elections in 2019. Jagan needed these bypolls to prove his popularity among the people, especially after Andhra Chief Minister N. Chandrababu was successful in snatching three of his MPs and 20 MLAs in the last four years.
If the byelections are held in the five seats, Jagan is confident of winning back all or at least four of them as they come in his strongholds. The TDP at the best might win Tirupati (SC) seat. But defeating YSR Congress might be tricky for the TDP or any other party as the MPs had quit on a popular sentimental issue.