Hyderabad Taking the confrontation with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) up by another notch, the Telangana government on Monday decided to commence the budget session of the state legislature from March 7, without the mandatory address by governor Tamilsai Soundarrajan.
A notification issued by state legislature secretary V Narasimha Charyulu on Monday evening said the second meeting of the eighth session of the second Telangana state assembly would commence at 11.30am on March 7. A similar notification for the legislative council was also issued separately. There was no notification for the joint session of two houses, which is necessary for the governor’s address.
A CMO spokesman said the state cabinet to be chaired by chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao would be held at his camp office Pragati Bhavan at 5pm on March 6 to approve the state budget. The budget session would commence the following day with the presentation of the annual budget for 2022-23 by state finance minister T Harish Rao straightaway.
The spokesman indicated that there would be no address of the joint meeting of the assembly and the council by Soundarrajan.
It is a common practice that the governor addresses the first session of the state legislature of every calendar year, which is generally the budget session. The address would be followed by a discussion on the motion of thanks to the governor’s address in both the Houses, which ends with a reply by the chief minister.
The Telangana government has been following the practice for the last seven years. It was former governor ESL Narasimhan who addressed the joint meeting of the state legislative assembly and legislative council every year on the commencement of the budget session for the first five years. In the subsequent two years, Tamilisai addressed the joint session of the assembly and the council.
This is for the first time that the budget session of the state assembly is commencing without the mandatory governor’s address.
A TRS leader familiar with the development said the decision to do away with the practice of the governor’s address was taken in the wake of the face-off between the chief minister and the BJP-led government at the Centre.
“In the governor’s address which has to be approved by the state cabinet, KCR was planning to make a strong attack on the Narendra Modi government at the Centre. But he felt Tamilisai might avoid the references to the Modi government while reading out the speech and that would be an embarrassment to the chief minister. That could be the reason why he has decided to drop the governor’s address altogether,” the TRS leader said.
Constitutional expert and former Central Information Commissioner Madabhushi Sridhar said the Constitution of India clearly said the first new session of a state legislature in any calendar year should commence with the speech of the governor.
“It should be the first session of the year and a new session. These are the two key points for the governor’s address. The presentation of budget can be done at any time and it has nothing to do with the governor’s speech,” he said.
An official in the CMO said the coming budget session is not the first session of the year, as the previous session which was adjourned sine die on October 8 has not been prorogued. “So, technically, the same session, which is eighth session of the second Telangana assembly, will only resume on March 7. As such, the speaker will resume the session without any need for the governor’s address,” the official said.
Only if the last session was prorogued by the governor, the budget session would be considered a new session of the fresh calendar year, he said.
He said there were such precedents in the country wherein the budget sessions began without the governor’s address. It happened in West Bengal in the 2020-21 budget session. In Pondicherry, too, there was no governor’s address in 2020 due to a boycott by then governor Kiran Bedi.
“In the combined Andhra Pradesh regime, too, the budget sessions in 1970 and 2014 commenced without the governor’s address,” the official added.
Sridhar said the Telangana government had chosen a clever route to avoid the governor, though it reflected an unwarranted confrontation with a gubernatorial system.
BJP state president Bandi Sanjay said the decision taken by the chief minister to avoid the governor’s address was against the democratic and constitutional spirit. “It is nothing but insulting the institution of the governor and it shows KCR’s respect towards a woman governor,” Sanjay said.
All India Congress Committee spokesman Dasoju Sravan said KCR’s decision was nothing but a part of his political theatrics to project himself as a fighter against the BJP, as the governor was appointed by the BJP-led central government. “In the process, the chief minister has given a go-by to constitutional customs and practices,” he said.