It has become inevitable that whenever Congress leaders in Telangana meet Governor ESL Narasimhan, there are fireworks at Raj Bhavan. Monday was no different with a sharp exchange of words between Narasimhan and senior Congress leader Shabbir Ali.
Officially, the delegation of opposition leaders which included the BJP, Telugu Desam and TJS had gone to Raj Bhavan to request him to stop the demolition of Secretariat buildings and heritage structures to build a new Secretariat and Assembly.
It began with a harmless query by the Governor to Shabbir Ali, quipping that the latter is not to be seen much these days.
“You only see the two chief ministers of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, where will you see us,” shot back Ali sarcastically.
“That is wrong. I see both states. Don’t talk politics here,” retorted Narasimhan.
“I belong to a political party. I only talk politics,” Ali reacted.
G Vivek, who is spearheading the campaign against demolition of the present Secretariat told Filter Kaapi that the exchange was not entirely unexpected. Relations between Raj Bhavan and the opposition party in Telangana have been frosty for a while. In January 2018, Congress leaders had accused Narasimhan of behaving like an agent of the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samiti. A miffed Governor had asked them to stop talking nonsense.
“The Congress feels that the Governor has not been supportive,” says Vivek.
On Monday, the delegation told the Governor that he is custodian of all properties in Hyderabad, which is the common capital of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh till 2024, as per the AP Reorganisation Act.
“Chandrababu Naidu spent Rs 12 crore to renovate two blocks under Andhra’s control. Those buildings have now come to Telangana, why should you demolish them. Similarly, many of the blocks were constructed only in 2003-04. If they are dilapidated or prevent the entry of say fire engines, do demolish. But not everything. That is what we conveyed to the Governor,” Shabbir Ali told Filter Kaapi.
Another Congress leader and former Home minister Jana Reddy reportedly adopted a condescending tone and told the Governor to save the heritage buildings so that when he relinquishes charge, the people will remember him for the good work done.
Vivek now plans to approach the Union Home ministry and the President of India to mount pressure on the Telangana government to give up its plan to raze the Secretariat and a Nizam-time palace, Errum Manzil (pic above) to the ground.