Can Guv Tamilisai ‘interfere’ in the functioning of TRS govt?

Yunus Y. Lasania and Daneesh Majid

Hyderabad:  Ever since coronavirus cases (COVID-19) began increasing in Telangana, Governor Tamilisai Soundarajan has been vocal in censuring the state government for its shortcomings. In fact, in an interview with a TV channel, she recalled writing letters to the state administration. While it is good to see the constitutional authority being an alert first citizen, it also brings up the question whether a governor can or should, interfere in the affairs of a state with an elected body.

So far, neither Chief Minister and Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) head K. Chandrashekar Rao (KCR) and (his son) state IT minister and TRS working-president K. T Rama Rao (KTR) have said anything about Soundarajan’s comments. The Governor, who is a doctor by profession and a former president of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Tamil Nadu unit, had pulled-up the state government with regard to allegations of low testing for COVID-19 as well.

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Her openly verbal chiding of the TRS government have raised questions about whether she should be speaking the way she has been, while holding a constitutional post which is only ceremonial in nature, and has no part to play in the day-to-day affairs of the state’s administration. A senior TRS legislator, who did not want to be quoted, said that Soundarajan is “behaving like a representative of the BJP”.

“A governor should be the first citizen of the state. If she talks like that without thinking, what can we do? That is very bad. Only people like KTR and KCR can do something, but because they are not saying anything, party representatives are also quiet. I think if she gives another statement, then the high command will definitely criticize her. KCR meets the governor for every small thing and she can tell him if she has any issues,” the TRS legislator stated.

On contacting other TRS leaders on the matter, including those who are vocal in the media and social media, they refused to comment, adding credence to what senior TRS legislator quoted above said. In fact, TRS MLA Saidi Reddy, who courted controversy by tweeting that Soundarajan was “acting like the BJ P president”, has taken off his comment since.

Political analyst Palwai Raghavendra Reddy said that Tamilisai Soundarajan is not a typical Governor, but someone who is a seasoned politician, unlike her predecessor E. S. L Narasimhan, who was also a former chief of the Intelligence Bureau. “With people like this in the governorship, there have always been schisms between ruling-party governments and governors who are aligned to a different political party. Soundarajan will also use whatever she is doing now to leverage her political career in the future,” he added.

Reddy also pointed out that the state unit of the BJP may also use Soundarajan’s outspokenness against the ruling TRS in the upcoming Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation. “Also, if KCR responds to the Governor’s criticism, he will surprise everyone. He is the ultimate strategist in Telangana,” opined the political analyst.

BJP chief spokesperson Krishna Saagar Rao said that the Governor has only highlighted serious lapses by the state administration in dealing with COVID-19. “She neither used any harsh words of criticism nor made any statement against CM KCR or anyone particular in the administration,” he said, and added that Soundarajan has also clarified that she was only speaking in public after months of consistent written advice to the state government.

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