Hyderabad: Governor Dr Tamilisai Soundararajan said that she wants a cooperative, coherent relationship with the state government so that things can get done in a positive way.
Speaking exclusively to Deccan Chronicle after completing 100 days in office, the first woman Governor of Telangana state said that she held department-wise reviews to understand the functions of each department and make constructive suggestions to the government.
She was answering a question on why she held departmental reviews, and answered that there was no politics involved in holding the reviews. “I was the youngest president of the BJP’s Tamil Nadu unit. Now I am the youngest Governor. My aim of convening meetings is for productive reasons, not for criticism.”
Narrating the circumstances that led her to call for the review of the health department, the Governor said, “When dengue fever was prevalent in the recent past in the state, it was disheartening. I called the health secretary and asked what steps had been taken. The government also gave me reports. I gave suggestions on 15 points on preventing the spread of dengue, and I did so not only as a Governor but also as a doctor. I told the Chief Minister I was concerned with health and conveyed my concern with Ayushman Bharat.”
She strongly feels that not a single dengue patient has to die for the want of blood, and developed an App through the Red Cross Society to add more blood donors in emergency situations.
“When I called for the first annual meeting of the Red Cross Society I didn’t call district collectors, but all the district collectors voluntarily attended the meet and when they did, I cashed in on the opportunity and appealed to them to ensure that more blood donors were added to the Red Cross list which has now resulted in the number of Red Cross members in Telangana going into lakhs.”
Telangana, she said, is a new state, and “I’m proud of the state because I’m emotionally attached to the state’s culture. I had attended a book exhibition a couple of days ago where people told me how they had fought to get a separate state so that they would get better water, electricity, employment and to preserve the pride of the land.”
She described the Telangana movement as being the biggest struggle after the freedom struggle. As such, “it is the responsibility of the Govern-ment, the intellectuals and society to fulfil the demand of the people for a separate state. The people of Telangana have accepted me well and I reciprocate their affection. I’m really happy about the love and affection from the people here.”
Explaining her understanding of political and social issues in Telangana, the Governor said, “My work as state president of the BJP in Tamil Nadu laid the political ground work. That experience helps me in my position as Governor here, to understand the political situation of the state, the livelihood conditions of the people, and the concerns of the ruling party as well as the Opposition, and that of the different organisations.”
The Governor’s father, Mr K. Ananthan, was an MP and four-time MLA of the Congress in Tamil Nadu. Why then did she choose the BJP instead of the Congress?
“As the daughter of a politician, I was associated with most political activities, including conferences, election work, padyatras etc. From the beginning I had no affinity for the Congress.
“In 1999, I joined as ordinary member of the party and became a zonal in-charge. I was told to make use of my father’s capacity as a Congressman to get a bigger post in the field but I didn’t. When I met the then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee he talked only of development and the importance of connectivity. I admired him.”
She said she had joined the BJP without telling her father and when it was finally revealed, “there was turmoil in my family but I withstood everything. In 2004, the Congress regained power and most people were shifting but I stuck with the BJP and worked hard.”
Explaining her nature, Dr Soundararajan said, “If something happens before me I won’t shut my eyes. When I was a student at Punjab Medical College, I noticed that an ultrasound machine was lying idle for want of an air-conditioner. I called my father and asked him to raise the issue in the House and he raised it and the very next day the AC was installed.”
She said that when she visited Canada she saw how new-borns who needed medical attention were brought in by helicopter and wished that India would develop and progress so as to do the same.
She said that she held a review of the tribal welfare department and also called for a meeting of vice-chancellors of all universities in the state being the Chancellor herself, and told the Chief Minister to appoint full-time vice-chancellors to all the universities in the state.
She took the initiative of using the Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA) funds in universities in the state, and has made every effort to improve education in the state.
Replying to a question related to the recent RTC employees’ strike, the Governor said, “During the strike I called the transport secretary and conveyed my concern and also to the CM. About the transport strike, I don’t want to go into the controversy.” She further said, “I have been always concerned about the workers. I received memorandums and met all those who wanted to see me whether it is the Communist party, Congress party, even the joint action committee. I called the transport secretary twice. The government may have some difficulties, it may have some policy decisions, but my main concern was the workers and the livelihood of the 48,000 workers (who were dismissed).”
She said when Uber and Ola cab drivers called for a strike during that time, “I took the initiative and convinced them not to go on strike.”...