Newly elected legislators of the Bharatiya Janata Party boycotted the oath-taking ceremony in Telangana Assembly on Saturday, opposing the appointment of AIMIM Akbaruddin Owaisi as Pro-tem Speaker of the House. All eight legislators of the party skipped the event.
Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan administered the oath and appointed Akbaruddin Owaisi as pro-tem speaker of the House at an event held at Raj Bhavan on Saturday.
Chief Minister A. Revanth Reddy was the first to take the oath, followed by Deputy Chief Minister Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka.
Telangana BJP chief G. Kishan Reddy said, "BJP is against the appointment of Akbaruddin Owaisi as Pro-tem Speaker (of Telangana Assembly). This is against the tradition of appointing senior MLAs to the post. BJP MLAs will boycott taking oath before this Pro-tem Speaker. Our MLAs will take oath after a Speaker is appointed. We will never ally with such a party (AIMIM). We will go to the Governor on this."
In a video released on Friday, BJP MLA-elect Raja Singh said he would never take oath in front of an AIMIM member. Raja Singh, in a video release, asserted that he would never take oath "as long as he is alive" in front of AIMIM. “Can I take oath in front of a person (Akbaruddin Owaisi) who made anti-Hindu comments in the past?,” asked Raja Singh. He recalled that he did not take oath as an MLA when a member of AIMIM was the pro-tem Speaker in 2018.
BJP legislators met Kishan Reddy on Saturday morning and they later offered prayers at the Goddess Bhagya Lakshmi temple at Charminar.
Is Congress extending an olive branch to AIMIM?
Owaisi was a surprise pick as Congress backed the candidature of the six-time MLA and one of the senior-most members of the Assembly. However, former Chief Minister and BRS President K. Chandrashekar Rao supersedes him as he is an eight-time MLA. There are other seniors in the Assembly too like Srinivas Yadav and Danam Nagender (BRS), Uttam Kumar Reddy and Tummala Nageshwara Rao (Congress), who have won their seats six times and also are elder to Owaisi in experience and age.
But the Congress decided to go for Owaisi Jr. despite the grand old party’s sustained election campaign accusing AIMIM of being in cohort with the BJP. The Congress has overlooked BRS senior members to pick Owaisi which is being seen as extending a hand of friendship to the party which has been an unofficial ally of the BRS for close to a decade. It looks like Congress has initiated the process of weakening the BRS with the latest appointment, which may be aimed at weening away AIMIM and minorities from the BRS, who used to form a reliable vote bank of the BRS. It may be recalled that AIMIM and Congress enjoyed close ties between 2004 and 2014 when Congress was in power in the state.
The BJP argues that the Congress which has only 4 MLAs more than the magic figure of 60 is trying to strengthen its position in the Assembly with AIMIM’s help whereas the AIMIM is ready to join hands with the Congress to control power in the old city.
The notification for the election of the speaker will be issued in the Assembly soon and after a regular speaker is elected, the BJP legislators are expected to enter the Assembly and take oath. The choice of a regular speaker is expected to be unanimous and it has been learnt that the Congress has already decided on the candidate.
- With inputs from Rahul Devulapalli.