Raj Bhavan in Telangana challenges KCR-raj

When Dr. Tamilisai Soundararajan was appointed governor of Telangana in September 2019, it raised many eyebrows. After all, she was the president of Tamil Nadu BJP and 58 was not the age for an active politician to hold a governorship. The assumption was that the brilliant doctor had been sent to do what Kiran Bedi did to the Congress regime in Pondicherry as Lieutenant Governor.

To put it bluntly, steer the Telangana Rashtra Samiti government.

All these months, Soundararajan has proven these conspiracy theories wrong. Relations between Raj Bhavan and Pragati Bhavan, the official residence of the Chief Minister of Telangana, were quite cordial. The fact that the governor’s birthday coincided with Telangana’s formation day – June 2 – endeared her to Telangana Rashtra Samiti bosses and gave the impression that her appointment had been considered.

But now the masks – both for COVID and for political bonhomie – are off. So are the gloves. As K Chandrasekhar Rao goes ballistic against the NDA government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in particular, the governor, it seems, is reading a new script. She auditioned with her in New Delhi, letting national media know that all is not well in Hyderabad.

It’s been simmering for a while. Last year, the governor refused to clear Kaushik Reddy’s name as an MLC under the governor’s quota, arguing that he was just a politician who had defected from Congress to the TRS. At that time, the government did not rush her.

But he retaliated earlier this year when the Telangana government would not let Dr Soundararajan address the budget session – a constitutional practice – seeking refuge in the technicality that the Assembly had not been prorogued since. the winter session. The governor took this as an affront to his charge. She also pointed out that protocol courtesies were not extended to the governor when she visited the districts of Telangana, including visiting temples. With no senior officials or ministers receiving it, the governor considered it an insult to his office.

In response, KT Rama Rao, the state’s information technology minister and son of the chief minister, said the governor would be respected if she “acts like a governor”. They were offended by his alleged remark that the assembly could have been suppressed if it had delayed in giving its consent for the convening of the budget session. The Constitution stipulates that the interval between two sessions of the legislature must not exceed six months.

The heat was not limited to the Deccan plateau. In the nation’s capital, TRS MPs had served a notice of privilege against the prime minister over his comments on how unified Andhra Pradesh was split in 2014. The confrontation with the food minister of the Union Piyush Goyal over buying paddy only added to TRS against BJP. political acrimony.

The fact that Dr Soundararajan chose to target the TRS government shortly after meeting Prime Minister and Home Minister Amit Shah in Delhi, has the corridors of power suspecting that Delhi has a plan in place. The BJP sees Telangana as a low hanging fruit, a second gateway to southern India. The optics of a constitutional leader crossing swords with a chief minister he hopes to defeat in the polls is exactly what he would want heading into 2023. Much like Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar in Bengal whose run-ins with Mamata Banerjee are a running political soap opera and helped the BJP dictate the narrative in the state.

As a doctor, Dr. Soundararajan has often spoken about the state of health care in Telangana. The most recent was when she reported the incident of a patient being bitten by rats in the intensive care unit at Warangal Hospital, resulting in his death.

Going by statements this week, expect Raj Bhavan in Hyderabad to now seek clarification from the government and ask some uncomfortable questions. Even though it exposes Dr. Soundararajan to the burden of passing off his office as a second BJP office in the city.

Does this mean that relations between the governor and the prime minister have reached a point of no return? The constitutional relationship will entirely depend on the barometer of bitterness between the TRS and the BJP. Politically, the TRS attempt is to paint the BJP in anti-Telangana colors and it is more than likely that Dr. Soundararajan, due to his BJP background, will find himself caught in the crossfire.

By the late 1980s, Governor Kumudben Joshi ran almost a center of power parallel to Raj Bhavan, much to the chagrin of then-Chief Minister of United Andhra Pradesh, NT Rama Rao. KCR was then a close associate of NTR and he would like to engage in this battle of wits better than his former leader.

(TS Sudhir is a veteran journalist based in Hyderabad.)

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