Hyderabad: Telangana Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan Thursday accused the K Chandrashekar Rao-led state government of “discriminating” against her, humiliating the “highest office in the state” and “not following protocol”.
“For the past three years (in office), this state will write history on how a woman governor was discriminated against,” Soundararajan told reporters during a ceremony marking the ‘Beginning of Fourth Year in the Service of People of Telangana’ at the Raj Bhavan.
But, she added, “that discrimination did not hurt this governor. I do not demand rights because I am a woman, we work equivalent to men and achieve our rights”.
Speaking about her three years in office, she said: “All I want to say is, I am not happy. Whenever I wanted to reach out to people, I faced hurdles. Highest office is humiliated in this state.”
Soundararajan went on to recount instances when she was “disrespected”, saying: “I was denied the governor’s address, I was denied the hoisting of flag on Republic Day. Wherever I go, the protocol is not followed. Collector does not come and greet us. I am not bothered, but the governor’s office should be respected.”
She also mentioned how she had to visit Asia’s largest tribal festival Sammakka Saralamma Jatara, held in the remote district of Mulugu, by road after she requested the state government for a helicopter but did not receive a clear response.
“In the history of Telangana, it will be written how a governor’s office was treated and I don’t want it to be written in a negative way. But people should know what’s happening,” Soundararajan said.
Reacting to the charges, state minister Errabelli Dayakar Rao said Soundararajan was “insulting the constitutional post of governor”.
“Tamilisai Soundararajan is losing respect, and also spoiling the constitutional post of governor. Her actions are upsetting many in the state. She is acting like a BJP worker, holding meetings with them,” Rao told mediapersons. Soundararajan was earlier president of the Tamil Nadu BJP.
Chief minister KCR’s daughter K Kavitha, a Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) MLC, tweeted that “the office of governor of Telangana has turned into a political stage that is determined to defame the TRS government and CM”.
During her press interaction, Soundararajan also criticised the state government for its handling of the Covid pandemic, alleging low testing and poor infrastructure in government hospitals.
Asked whether she had discussed her disturbed relationship with the KCR government with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the governor said that the matter was too petty.
“My discussions with my higher office are constructive, not controversial. I cannot take such petty things to that place,” she said in response to ThePrint’s queries.
A widening rift
The rift between the governor’s office and the Telangana government had first come to light last year when Soundararajan held back a resolution referred to her by the state cabinet seeking nomination of TRS leader P Kaushik Reddy as a member of the legislative council under the governor’s quota.
“I had clearly communicated that the certain nominated candidate did not fit into the governor’s quota, it is a service quota,” she said on Thursday.
The cracks became more evident this year on two instances — Republic Day celebrations being limited to the Raj Bhavan in the wake of Covid, with KCR staying away from the event, and a session of the Telangana assembly being held without the governor’s address. According to a Times of India report, state government sources had indicated that the governor’s address was not mandatory as the previous session (in October 2021) had not been prorogued. Soundararajan in March expressed her displeasure openly on the issue.
The governor, when asked why the central government was not considering Telangana’s request for funds for irrigation or other projects, said that the “CM must maintain good relations” with the Centre to get work done.
She further questioned why KCR did not attend a recent Southern Zonal Council meeting, where Union Home Minister Amit Shah was in attendance, to put forth the state’s problems in person.
“Recently, there was a southern zonal meeting. I attended it in the capacity of Lt-Governor of Puducherry. In that meeting, 75 per cent of the issues were from Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. All the chief ministers were there, then why didn’t the (Telangana) chief minister attend?” she asked.
“When the Union home minister is there to solve problems, then what is the problem with you (KCR)? Why are you not using that chance given to you?” she said, adding that federal relations between offices must be intact and that the governor was just a catalyst in things.
“Any initiative that the Raj Bhavan wants to take (to) do something for the people in the state, is being met with hurdles. But I will not stop, I will continue my work,” she told the media.
(Edited by Nida Fatima Siddiqui)