Telangana: All eyes on Governorâ€™s address on February 6
Hyderabad: The State Budget for 2023–24 will be presented in the Legislative Assembly on February 6 by finance minister T. Harish Rao, but all eyes will be on Governor Dr Tamilsai Soundararajan's address on the first day of the joint session of the Legislative Council and Legislative Assembly on February 3, to see whether she sticks to the speech approved by the Cabinet or deviates from it.
Dr Soundararajan’s address, coming as it does after a two-year gap, has sparked a heated debate in political circles about what the Governor would do if the Chandrashekar Rao Cabinet-approved address contained criticism of the BJP-led government at the Centre or of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, or praise of itself.
Further, there is political talk on how Chief Minister Chandrashekar Rao, ministers, BRS MLAs, and MLCs would respond if the Governor added her own remarks supporting the Centre and the PM, as well as whether or not they would permit her to complete her address without interruption.
The CM had earlier accused the Governor of adding contents in her speech that were not approved by the Cabinet during the Budget session in March 2021 praising the Centre and Modi with regard to the Covid vaccination.
Also, what would the response be if the Governor avoided reading out parts of the address if they criticized the Centre and the PM or praised the BRS government unduly.
Political observers say that Article 176 of the Constitution only speaks about the special address by the Governor at the commencement of the first session in the New Year. There is no rule that the Governor has to read out the speech approved by the Cabinet. Governors could read out something on their own. That will, however, not go into the proceedings of the House. Only the speech approved by the state will be recorded in the proceedings, believe political analysts.
The Governor's address comes in the wake of a face-off between Raj Bhavan and Pragathi Bhavan over a number of issues, including the seven Bills that are pending in the Governor's office and a major dispute over Budget presentation. The Telangana government filed a lunch motion before the High Court seeking a direction to the Governor to approve the file regarding the presentation of the Budget. Following the court's advice, it was decided that the Governor would deliver her address during the Budget Session, the first of the year, and the state government would provide her the text.
The state government convened the Budget Session last year in March 2022 without the customary Governor's address after the gap widened between the CM and the Governor after she did not approve the nomination of Padi Kaushik Reddy as MLC under Governor's quota in August 2021 which was approved by the Cabinet.
This year too, the government decided to begin the Budget session without the Governor's address and even issued a notification in this regard. In response, the Governor kept her approval pending over Budget presentation in Legislature, which led to stalemate over commencement of the session. However, the government was forced to agree to the Governor's address after the High Court intervened on a petition filed by the state government seeking a direction to the Governor to approve the Budget.
Meanwhile, political observers say that the Article 176 of the Constitution only speaks about the special address by the Governor at the commencement of the first session in the New Year. There is no hard and fast rule that the Governor has to read out the speech approved by the Cabinet. Governors could read out something on their own. That will, however, not go into the proceedings of the House. Only the speech approved by the state will be recorded in the proceedings, believe political analysts .
The CM, who declared a war on the Centre, launched the BRS to enter into national politics, making attempts to stitch anti-BJP alliance in the country to defeat the NDA in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. The BRS government had been critical of the Centre’s policies on various issues, including undermining the federal spirit of the Constitution, usurping powers of the states, privatisation of PSUs, agri and power reforms, among others. The BRS government is upset over the Union Budget for ignoring Telangana's wish list and for discriminating against Telangana in sanctioning of funds and projects.
The gap between Raj Bhavan and Pragathi Bhavan widened after the Governor launched a 'complaint box' at her office on the occasion of New Year on January 1, 2022, to enable people to lodge complaints on the issues they were facing in availing the government services, which she promised to refer to the government for redressal.
The relations worsened after the Governor delivered a Republic Day speech at Raj Bhavan on January 26, 2022, which was not approved by the Cabinet and heaping praises on the BJP-led government at the Centre and the PM on Covid vaccination and other issues. The CM, his Cabinet colleagues and officials have avoided visiting Raj Bhavan since then. The relations between the CM and Governor further strained after she kept the approvals for seven bills pending that were passed by the Legislature in September 2022.
The face-off between the CM and Governor is not limited to Telangana. In Tamil Nadu too, the ruling DMK government and Governor R.N Ravi were at loggerheads. TN Governor's speech during the Budget session last month created a furore in the House after Ravi omitted a few words from his speech approved by the state Cabinet there.