Guwahati, Aug. 14: The Centre will table a bill for the creation of a Legislative Council (Upper House) in Assam during the winter session of Parliament.
This was conveyed to chief minister Tarun Gogoi by Union law minister Kapil Sibal during their interaction in New Delhi last night.
Bharat Chandra Narah, press adviser to the chief minister, told The Telegraph that Sibal informed Gogoi that all papers relating to creation of the Upper House (See chart) had been finalised and would be tabled in Paliament in November. Assam had an Upper House from 1931 to 1938 but it was abolished after Independence.
The demand for the council is old, with the state Assembly adopting resolutions for its creation in 2005 and 2010. Political parties as well as various organisations have been demanding a two-tier legislature for long to ensure representation of communities that cannot send their representatives to the Assembly by winning elections.
Sibal’s assurance comes as a huge relief for Gogoi because the Congress election manifesto in 2006, 2009 and 2011 had promised setting up of the Upper House. It will also provide him relief in the light of different demands for statehood. If the assurance materialises, it will be a huge boost to the party in the 2014 general elections.
Assembly sources said the parliamentary affairs department had sent a few clarifications sought by the law ministry before the last Assembly session ended on July 19. They said an elected member of the Legislative Council (MLC) will enjoy perks similar to that of an MLA and can also be a part of the state cabinet, the strength of which can go up to 25 from the existing 19.
In a statement on August 9, the influential AASU said it had been demanding creation of the Upper House as part of the safeguard guaranteed to indigenous people of the state under the provisions of the Assam Accord. They wanted all ethnic groups to be provided an opportunity to be a part of the decision-making process in the state.
Assam Congress has been moving the Centre from time to time its creation. Dispur has already started the groundwork for setting up the house in the under-construction Assembly building after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, a Rajya Sabha MP from Assam, threw his weight behind the proposal at a function to celebrate the platinum jubilee of the Assam Assembly.
• House will have 42 members (one/third of the strength of the 126-member Assam Assembly)
• 14 or one/third of members of the Legislative Council to be elected by members of local self-government bodies like the chairman of municipal boards/town committees, elected members of Guwahati Municipal Corporation, president and councillors of zilla parishads and anchalik parishads and president of gaon panchayats
• MLAs will elect 14 members
• The governor will nominate seven members from various fields
• Four members to be elected by Sixth Schedule autonomous councils — two by BTC, one each by Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao
• Three members to be nominated by the six non-Sixth Schedule autonomous councils through a draw of lots