The first session of the newly-elected Telangana Assembly was held on Thursday with the legislators taking oath. Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao was the first to take oath as Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) as the session was chaired by pro-tem Speaker Mumtaz Ahmed Khan of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM).
However, BJP's lone legislator in the House, Raja Singh, stuck to his earlier statement and boycotted the proceedings. Earlier this month, the MLA who has been repeatedly booked for hate speech, had said that he would not participate in the swearing-in ceremony, because the designated pro-tem Speaker Mumtaz Ahmed Khan belonged to the AIMIM.
"I will not take oath in front of a Speaker belonging to 'that' (AIMIM) party, which speaks about finishing off Hindus and won't say 'Vande Mataram' or 'Bharat mata ki jai'. I won't take oath in front of a Speaker from such a dirty party," Singh had said in a video he published on his Facebook page.
Speaking to TNM on Thursday, Singh reiterated, "The reason is the same as what I stated. Once the new Speaker is elected, I will take oath in front of him. My problem is only with the AIMIM. If it is anyone else, even from any religion, I have no problem taking oath in front of them."
When asked if the Speaker could be from any religion in the TRS, he said, "Yes. Because I am against the thinking of AIMIM. They stay in India and speak against it. They talk about finishing the Hindus. I can't take oath in front of a Speaker belonging to such a party.â
âHowever, if the AIMIM leader who is presently pro-tem Speaker says âBharat mata ki jaiâ and âVande Mataramâ, then I'm ready to take oath in front of him as well,â he added.
Others who were absent included Akbaruddin Owaisi, who was the AIMIMâs floor leader during the previous term of the Assembly. TNM has learnt that he is presently in London undergoing treatment. He is expected to take oath in the Speakerâs chambers, once he returns to Hyderabad. TDP MLA-elect Sandra Venkata Veeraiah was also absent.
Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) President, K Chandrasekhar Rao, who was re-elected from Gajwel constituency in the December election, took oath immediately after the session began, followed by the other MLAs in alphabetical order.
Before the beginning of the session, KCR and all MLAs of the TRS, paid tributes at the Telangana Martyrs' memorial in front of the Assembly building.
The schedule of election to the Speaker will be announced later in the day and the nomination process would commence. The Speaker's election would take place on Friday. While KCR is yet to announce who the Speaker will be, the names doing the rounds include senior leaders like Pocharam Srinivas Reddy. Srinivas accompanied KCR in the car as they made their way to the memorial, triggering further speculation.
KCR has appealed to the opposition to cooperate in the unanimous election of the Speaker.
After administering the oath to all the MLAs who were present, the pro-tem Speaker adjourned the House, to meet at 11 am on Friday.
Governor ESL Narasimhan will address the House on January 19. The next day the House will introduce the motion of thanks to the Governor's address and adopt the same.
KCR, who led the TRS to a landslide victory, took oath as the Chief Minister for a second term on December 13. Mohammad Mehmood Ali, a member of the Legislative Council, was the only minister to take oath along with the TRS chief. KCR is likely to expand his cabinet later in January.
TRS bagged 88 seats in the 119-member Assembly. In December, the government also named Elvis Stephenson as the MLA from the Anglo-Indian community. He also took oath as MLA on Thursday.