Friday, October 30, 2020

Assembly session during pandemic; TRS likely to win hands down

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Hyderabad: The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) patriarch K. Chandrasekhar Rao has of late developed a liking to play opposite the Narendra Modi-led NDA government with an intent to become a champion of federal politics. Rao, widely known as KCR has even been preparing his party MPs to fix the union government during the monsoon session of the Parliament on passage of bills detrimental to the interests of states like Electricity Amendment Bill, 2020 and the move to cut down the GST (Goods and Services Tax) compensation due to the states by nearly 50 percent.

But the KCR government in Telangana seemingly finds itself on the same page with the NDA government in using the corona pandemic as a weapon to clip the wings of lawmakers during the current session of the state Assembly. The Parliament is scheduled to meet on September 14 while the Telangana state Assembly commenced its session on Monday and lasts till September 28.

The government gives undue priority to its own business with a scant regard for the opposition’s business. In an unprecedented move in the history of Parliamentary practices, the NDA government has decided to eliminate question hour and cut down the duration of zero hour in the monsoon session. The question hour is meant to make the governments of the day accountable to people by empowering members to raise questions on critical issues during the sessions. But accountability is all set to be thrown to winds in the name of the corona pandemic.

In the Telangana the Assembly Speaker Pocharam Srinivas Reddy decided to hold the session without media points. Members from the opposition benches, when they fail to get a chance to raise public issues on the floor of the house, will reach out to a barrage of TV channels at the media point to let their message reach the people. In the absence of such an outlet for the opposition people are unlikely to see the other side of the coin. The number of questions to be raised during the question hour was limited to six. The CM KCR’s clarification that the curbs have been imposed in view of the pandemic was rejected by the opposition parties at the Business Advisory Committee (BAC) meeting.

The police commissioner Anjani Kumar invoked the Hyderabad Police Act to suspend public rallies and protests in a radius of 4km outside the Assembly premises during the session. In 2014 Telangana under KCR’s leadership was born out of the aspirations of statehood movement to achieve “self-rule” with autonomy from the rule of Andhra people who were dubbed as outsiders. 

The spread of Corona Pandemic in the two Telugu sates sees free speech curtailed, dissent voices silenced and the right to protest and hold rallies eclipsed. Several leaders from the opposition parties in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana were put behind the bars when they attempted to undertake relief measures for the virus-hit people.

The way how the Assembly sessions are conducted in Telangana under the TRS rule is worse than the period during the undivided Andhra Pradesh, lamented Congress former lawmaker M. Kodanda Reddy. The approach adopted by the government for passage of a bill relating to the multi-crore Mission Bhagiratha is a pointer to the ‘autocratic’ rule of the KCR government and lack of transparency in governance, he said. The ruling party ensured passage of the bill with its brute majority without even tabling the detailed project report for the members of the House, he said.

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