Interview of the Week
Former president of TNGOs and a prominent leader of the pro-Telangana movement, K Swamy Goud, played a crucial role in mobilising employees in...
Ensuring Question Hour strictly
Former president of TNGOs and a prominent leader of the pro-Telangana movement, K Swamy Goud, played a crucial role in mobilising employees in support of the separate statehood agitation in general and the 'Sakala Janula Samme' (strike by all sections of people) last year in particular.
From the humble beginnings of lowest cadre, he rose to become the employee leader. After the formation of the Telangana State, he joined the TRS last year and was subsequently elected to the council from graduates' constituency in Karimnagar district. Later, Goud rose to become the first Chairman of the Legislative Council of the Telangana State. In a freewheeling interview with
Mahesh Avadhutha, Goud explains in detail the likely problems that he foresees during the forthcoming budget session, if both Telugu-speaking governments decide to hold the session almost simultaneously It appears that budget session of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh will be held simultaneously this time.
Do you foresee any logistic issues like security?
A message has been conveyed to the Andhra Pradesh government earlier about the likely bottlenecks such as giving traffic clearance for Chief Ministers, parking problems and entry of visitors, which might arise incase both States convene state legislatures at the same time.
Take the case of traffic clearance to Chief Minister, although Andhra Pradesh can deploy any number of police personnel from 13 districts, the assistance of the Hyderabad police is very important to run its session in Hyderabad. Assuming local police give clearance to their Chief Minister first, the other party might raise objections that their Chief Minister is kept waiting. Even if elected representatives think magnanimously because of the special situation here and do not make any fuss about it, this cannot be guaranteed when it comes to visitors.
There is a chance of visitors raising a big hue and cry if local police impose strict regulations on their movement on the Assembly or the Council premises. This sort of incidents might lead to unnecessary friction. I personally feel it would be better if both governments see that the dates don’t clash.
Then, is there a way to avoid the complex situation that looks imminent I discussed the issue with Speaker Madhusudhana Chary and Assembly Secretary. It will be taken to the notice of the Chief Minister in a day or two. We will definitely consult them and hopefully the issue will be sorted out. Let’s hope they will co-operate to find a way forward on this.
But there are constitutional obligations to complete the budget formalities before the end of March That is the reason we are appealing to them to advance dates for their budget session so that there would be no clash of dates. Telangana is likely to convene its budget session in March first week.
Sharing of rooms between both States as far as Legislative Assembly is concerned has been resolved. What is the position in regard to Legislative Council?
The deadlock still continues. The Telangana Legislative Council consists of the Jubilee Hall (where Council functions) and two rooms, one each for Chairman and Deputy Chairman. There are no rooms for Leader of Opposition or various Council Committees. With no space to sit, Leader of Opposition D Srinivas and other Congress members are sitting in my chamber. I am sometimes going out so that they should not feel uncomfortable to chat freely in my presence.
Congress leaders understand the space woes confronting us and are not complaining. Even the room where I am sitting belongs to AP Finance Minister Yanamala Ramakrishnudu. Realising that there is no chamber for Telangana Council Chairman, he voluntarily came forward and vacated this room.
The keys of almost all rooms are with AP Legislative Council even eight months after bifurcation. I took up the issue with my counterpart in Andhra Pradesh who assured of resolving the room sharing issue. But till now no concrete action has been taken.
You were in the forefront of Telangana statehood movement as an employee leader. During this period, you developed good rapport with several key politicians from TRS, Congress and other parties. But now you are adorning the coveted post of Council Chairman. How are you handling delicate issues like pulling up members whenever pandemonium prevails in the House? There are no issues.
Every member is extending full cooperation for the smooth running of the House. I feel honoured to have become the Chairman of the Legislative Council despite coming from a humble background. But let me tell you whenever I speak in the Council, it is the Chair which is addressing the Members and not Swamy Goud, the individual. Moreover, I am learning ‘lessons of life’ from my esteemed colleagues who have been in political sphere for several decades.
I keenly hear whenever senior members like D Srinivas and others speak in the House. I barely interrupt them and hence the Question Hour of 30 minute duration is extending beyond two to three hours sometimes. Question hour reflects policies of government and constructive debates on it should be encouraged.
Congress alleges foul play since no action has been taken on its party MLCs who defected to TRS. Don’t you think the disqualification episode led to doubts about the neutrality of the Chair?
The matter is in the court and I cannot comment on what will happen. The Congress party might have its own pressures, but the Chair has its own constraints when dealing with disqualification matters. Notices were already issued to the members concerned.
But as the Council Chairman, I should definitely consider when members seek time for submitting their explanations. The Chair cannot simply take action unilaterally. God forbid, if any hasty decision is taken and tomorrow any member’s stand is proved right, questions would be raised on the integrity of the Chair
What is the current status on the disqualification issue?
I am speaking to legal experts and the Advocate General on the case. Due decision will be taken in the coming days. There is no set time period to deal these kinds of issues. Hence complainants should be patient and wait until the Chair arrives at a final decision.
Assembly Speaker, Secretary and you recently went to Australia for a study tour. Can you inform us what are your observations?
We toured Canberra and Melbourne and visited the legislatures there. During the visit to Parliament House in Melbourne, our delegation was briefed on the Victorian parliamentary committee system and on the procedures relating to Question Time and petitions. We interacted with Speaker and other important dignitaries. It was a very fruitful tour and officials are preparing report which would be submitted to the Chief Minister.
Your delegation might have enquired about parliamentary rules being practised in that country? Did you find any of them that can be implemented here?
The one thing we noticed was strict functioning of House proceedings according to scheduled timings and a lot of that has to do with Question Time. Unlike here, no supplementary questions are allowed in Australia. A member can ask a question to which the government would respond.
He may rise again and seek additional information if not satisfied but other members have no right to speak on the subject raised by him. The other thing we noticed was strict action against members if they were found to violate rules and procedures. There is no compromise on that issue how senior or experienced the member might be.
Lastly, Speaker Madhusudhana Chary has set a goal to strive for welfare of neglected Chenchu tribes in his Bhupalpally constituency during his tenure. Do you have any ambition?
I make it a habit to celebrate my birthday and special occasions in orphanages, especially Kasturba centre in Rajendranagar. I wish to do my bit for developing orphanages especially during my tenure as Council Chairman. A project report is being prepared on how to assist orphanages and old-age homes in my native place Rajendranagar. I plan to extend such facilities to orphanages in ten districts of Telangana later.