The Odisha government is considering moving a resolution for the formation of Vidhan Parishad in the upcoming monsoon session of the state legislative assembly, according to sources in the ruling BJD.
The panel formed by the government in 2015 to study the feasibility and procedure for a Vidhan Sabha has submitted its report last week to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. The panel comprises Minister for Commerce and Transport Nrusingha Charana Sahoo, BJD MLAs Pramila Mallick and Manohar Randhari, Congress MLA Bhujabal Majhi and BJP MLA Nitesh Gangadeb. The government has not made details of the report public.
If the Vidhan Parishad is formed, Odisha will have a bicameral legislature like Karnataka, Maharashtra, Jammu and Kashmir, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and Telengana.
“The Constitution allows states to have an upper house along the lines of Rajya Sabha”, said a senior officer in the state parliamentary affairs department. “The strength of the Vidhan Parishad may be a third of the strength of the Vidhan Sabha, which has 147 seats”.
Article 169 of the Indian Constitution states that Parliament may by law provide for the creation of such a Council in a State having no such Council, if the Legislative Assembly of the State passes a resolution, by a majority of the total membership of the Assembly and by a majority of not less than two thirds of the members of the Assembly present and voting.
“Congress has always opposed this idea (of a Vidhan Parishad) and will oppose the bill (to form it) when it is presented in the assembly”, said Leader of Opposition in the assembly and Congress veteran Narasingha Mishra. “If the state’s Vidhan Sabha cannot solve problems, what will Vidhan Parishad do?”
Like the Rajya Sabha, members of the Vidhan Parishad serve six-year-long terms, with one-third of members moving out every two years. The members are elected by different groups, such as local bodies, Vidhan Sabha members, while some are nominated by the state’s Governor.