Hyderabad: The friction between Telangana Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan and Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) government in the state is likely to increase with the latest salvo fired by the former.
The fresh comments made by Tamilisai a couple of days ago during her visit to home state Tamil Nadu are likely to add fuel to the fire.
The governor, who has so far been targeting the TRS government for humiliating her, has launched a direct attack on Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao, popularly known as KCR.
She remarked that her visit to flood-hit Bhadrachalam forced the chief minister, who was sleeping in his bungalow, to rush to the temple town.
“There was criticism as to what I could do in Bhadrachalam. This governor had the talent to bring out the chief minister, who was sleeping in that bungalow with sprawling gardens till that time,” she said referring to her visit to the flooded temple town in July.
Her comments echo the often repeated jab by the BJP leaders that KCR confines himself to his farmhouse.
She recalled that she reached Bhadrachalam by train while the chief minister, who flew by air, reached five hours later. She also claimed that when she decided to visit Bhadrachalam by train, DGP and other officials tried to dissuade her from proceeding but she told them either to give security or leave it.
When Tamilisai was making these comments in Chennai around the same time Telangana Assembly’s Deputy Speaker T. Padma Rao Goud targeted her for not clearing the files sent by the government for her approval.
“The government makes many decisions for the welfare of the people and development of the state but the files pertaining to these are being delayed. She is governor of Telangana and not governor of some other country like Pakistan,” the TRS leader remarked.
Political analysts say the relations between the governor and the state government have never been so strained since the formation of Telangana state eight years ago and even in the last four decades in the united Andhra Pradesh.
Tamilisai Soundararajan, a former BJP leader in Tamil Nadu, was appointed as Telangana Governor in 2019, the TRS was reportedly miffed over the Centre not consulting it before the appointment.
Initially, the relations were cordial between the governor and the state government and the friction began when Tamilisai visited a few hospitals during Covid-19 pandemic. The TRS government was irked by her remarks over the government’s handling of the pandemic.
Eyebrows were raised in political circles when Soundararajan, who is also a physician, called meetings of officials over Covid situation. The ruling party felt that the governor was overstepping her powers.
The ties between Pragati Bhavan (the official residence of CM) and Raj Bhavan (the official residence of Governor) turned sour last year when the governor did not approve the state Cabinet’s recommendation to appoint P. Kaushik Reddy as the member of state Legislative Council under the governor’s quota.
She had told the media that since the nominated post falls in the category of social service, she was trying to get information about Kaushik Reddy’s social service works.
The TRS government later had to send Kaushik Reddy to the upper House of the state Legislature under MLA quota.
In the meantime, KCR had also changed his policy and turned a bitter critic of the BJP-led government at the Centre. Political analysts say this added to the discord.
The CM and ministers had also not attended Republic Day celebrations at Raj Bhavan.
The differences deepened further after the state government commenced budget session of the State Legislature without customary address of the governor. She took exception to this. However, the government argued that there was no need for the governor’s address as it was not a new session but continuation of the previous session.
The governor was also not invited for the reopening of Yadadri temple on March 28. The Chief Minister had attended the rituals to mark the reopening of the temple after renovation.
She was also not invited to Medaram Jatra, the tribal fair held in February. She visited Medaram but she alleged that the state government did not follow the protocol.
In April, she met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah. After the meetings, she launched an attack on the TRS government saying it is not respecting the office of the governor.
On completion of three years in office last month, she alleged that the governor is being humiliated. She said that the state government is discriminating against a woman governor by not following the protocol.
“It will go down in the history of Telangana, how a woman governor was treated,” she said.
Claiming that she wants to serve people of Telangana with pure heart and affection, she said she was facing hurdles in her efforts.
She alleged that the state government denied her an opportunity to hoist the national flag at the Republic Day parade. She said she was told to hoist the flag in Raj Bhavan citing Covid-19 protocols. She wondered why this restriction was imposed only in Telangana when all the states held Republic Day parades.
She also claimed that when her office approached the state government for the speech, it was not provided. She defended delivering her own speech on the occasion. “You are not giving the speech means should I shut my mouth. Don’t I have a right to talk? Should I read what they give on Republic Day,” she asked.
The TRS leaders hit back at Tamilisai. Ruling party legislator and KCR’s daughter K. Kavitha remarked the office of Telangana governor has turned into a political stage that is determined to defame the TRS government and KCR.
State minister and KCR’s son K.T. Rama Rao attacked her for what he called indulging in political speech. “You can’t have a dual role. You can’t be Telangana BJP leader and at the same time a governor. You have to choose one,” he said.
“Is it okay for the governor to say that if I had kept the file with me for 15 days the government would have collapsed. Can a governor talk like this, indulge in political speech and say I could have dethroned the government. Is it fair,” he asked.
He pointed out that the governor is an institution. “It is a titular position and not a democratically elected position. She is nominated by the central government,” he said
According to political analyst P. Raghavendra Reddy, since the days of Thakur Ram Lal in the early 1980s, this is the first time Hyderabad has been witnessing a tension between the governor and the chief minister.
“Since Modi came into power, his administration is seeking control of happenings even at the state-level. In this scenario, Governor Tamilisai’s way of dealing with the elected chief minister is purely politically motivated. Governors like Tamilisai and Arif Mohammad Khan (of Kerala), who are appointed in the states run by political parties unfavorable towards the BJP, might be following a similar script. This script is to ensure these elected governments are painted as anti-Constitution,” he said.
“Additionally in Telangana, Governor Tamilisai has the advantage of being a woman, and her being mistreated by the chief minister is likely to add to the anti-KCR narrative. The longer Governor Tamilisai carries on with this fight, the more it will hurt the image of KCR’s administration.
“The state government too is unfortunately picking up wrong battles in the state by denying Constitutionally guaranteed protocol to the governor, instead of fighting the rising influence of the saffron brigade,” he added.