Raj Bhavan vs Pragathi Bhavan: No full-scale R-Day celebrations in TS since 2020

Update: 2023-01-25 19:15 GMT
Sarpanches threaten to lay siege to Pragathi Bhavan. (DC File Image)

HYDERABAD: Traditionally, the Republic Day celebrations in Andhra Pradesh have been held at the Parade Ground in Secunderabad with the Governor hoisting the national tricolour and the Chief Minister, Cabinet Ministers, and other senior officials in full attendance. Departing from the age-old and time-honoured tradition, the state government has not been organising full-scale R-Day celebrations since 2020.

Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao continued this treasured practice after the formation of Telangana State in 2014 till 2019. However, after that, he changed the venue from Parade Ground to the Public Gardens in Nampally. Historically, a police parade took place during the celebrations, coupled with cultural performances by students from different schools and a display of tableaus by different departments showing their accomplishments. However, this practice was discontinued beginning in 2019.

E.S.L. Narasimham, who served as Telangana's first Governor from 2014 to 2019 following the state's formation, hoisted the flag at the Public Gardens in 2019 in presence of the Chief Minister, Cabinet ministers, and other dignitaries. In January 2020, Tamilisai Soundararajan, who was appointed Governor in  September 2019, unfurled the flag for the first time at the same venue, which was attended by the CM, ministers, officials, and other dignitaries.

Later, citing the Covid pandemic, the state government postponed Republic Day festivities in 2021 and 2022. In the same years, Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan hoisted the national flag at the Raj Bhavan, while the Chief Minister unfurled the Tricolour in the Pragathi Bhavan, his official residence, skipping the celebrations at the Raj Bhavan. Although the Covid threat has decreased significantly this year, the KCR government does not appear to be in the mood to hold the festivities in the Public Gardens, seemingly due to the ongoing conflicts between the Raj Bhavan and Pragathi Bhavan, with the Governor and the CM not seeing eye-to-eye on a number of issues, mainly protocol row.

The CM has avoided visiting Raj Bhavan and has not met the Governor since a
disagreement over Padi Kaushik Reddy's nomination as an MLC under the Governor's quota broke out in August 2021. After the Cabinet had approved it
and forwarded it to her, the Governor was accused of delaying approval without providing justification. This upset the CM, who in December 2020 recommended Kaushik Reddy as an MLC under the MLAs' quota.

The equation between the Raj Bhavan and Pragathi Bhavan further worsened
after the Governor spearheaded a "Complaints Box" at her office on January
1, 2022, to allow citizens to lodge their grievances to be forwarded to the government for remedy. This infuriated the CM even more than before, and he and his ministers last year chose to forego the Republic Day festivities at the Raj
Bhavan. Rao also chose not to attend the Governor's ceremonial hoisting of
the Tricolour at Raj Bhavan on Independence Day and Republic Day for the
past two years.

The relationship between the Governor and the Chief Minister was further strained by the Governor's public criticism of the Telangana government and
her frequent trips to New Delhi to meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah to provide updates on the functioning of the Telangana government. On the other hand, the ministers and BRS leaders openly criticised the Governor during news conferences, branding her a "BJP agent" and charging that she had converted Raj Bhavan into "BJP Bhavan".

Further stoking the fire was the CM's decision to hold the Assembly's Budget Session without the customary Governor's address since March of last year.
Since September 2020, the government has avoided proroguing the Assembly in
order to avoid the Governor's address because, if the House were to do so, a new session would begin, and, by convention, a new session must open with the Governor's address.

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