Telangana Budget Session: BRS, Congress clash in Assembly over auto drivers’ livelihood

Livelihood of auto rickshaws are impacted due to the Mahalaxmi scheme say BRS MLA and MLC's

By Sistla Dakshina Murthy  Published on  9 Feb 2024 10:13 AM GMT
Telangana Budget Session: BRS, Congress clash in Assembly over auto drivers’ livelihood

Hyderabad: Protesting against the Congress government’s attitude to auto drivers after the implementation of the Mahalakshmi scheme – free bus travel for women in Telangana – Bharat Rashtra Samithi MLAs and MLCs started their ‘Chalo Assembly’ plan by arriving in auto-rickshaws on the second day of Telangana Legislative Assembly Budget sessions on Friday.

MLAs T Harish Rao, Talasani Srinivas Yadav, Sudhir Reddy, Sabita Indra Reddy, Malla Reddy, Vivekananda, Madhavaram Krishna Rao, Padi Kaushik Reddy, MLC Satyavathi Rathod came to the Assembly in autos from the MLA quarters in Hyderguda.

BRS vs Congress on auto rickshaw drivers’ plight

Tension prevailed for a while when the police prevented the BRS leaders from entering the Telangana Assembly budget sessions carrying placards demanding that the State Government address the plight of the autorickshaw drivers. Heated arguments were exchanged between Quathbullapur MLA KP Vivekanand Goud and Saifabad ACP Sanjay.

Inside the Assembly, the budget session witnessed a stormy debate between the BRS and Congress on the plight of auto-rickshaw drivers.

The argument started with BRS MLA Dr Palla Rajeshwar Reddy giving the Motion of Thanks to the Governor’s address on Thursday. Rajeshwar Reddy criticised the Governor’s address calling it full of ‘lies and frauds’, referring to governor Tamilisai Soundararajan mentioning the Congress manifesto and the six guaretees in her speech.

The BRS MLA said that the previous BRS government had initiated many welfare schemes in Pragati Bhavan including solving the problems of Singareni workers. He criticised chief minister A Revanth Reddy for not attending the Prajavani at least once a week.

“So far, the Congress government has implemented only one scheme out of the six guarantees. Not even a single person was given Rs 10 lakh under Aarogyasri. When only Rs 20 crores were spent on Rajiv’s Aarogyasri scheme, the government is claiming that it has spent Rs 60 crores. Only two out of the 13 promises have been being implemented,” the MLA said.

‘21 autorickshaw drivers lost their lives in Telangana’

Harish Rao said as many as 21 autorickshaw drivers lost their lives and several scores were facing severe hardships due to the implementation of the Mahalakshmi scheme (free bus travel for women) by the Congress government. “We are welcoming the government’s decision to provide free bus travel for women in TSRTC buses. The government should safeguard auto rickshaw drivers as well,” he said.

Compensation demanded for kin

The BRS MLA said that it has come to light that around 6.5 lakh auto rickshaw drivers are facing severe hardships and are unable to pay their monthly instalments due to a lack of demand for rides. “We are demanding a compensation of Rs 10 lakh each to the kin of the deceased autorickshaw drivers. The budget to be introduced by the government should be included in such a way as to provide a living wage of Rs 10 per month for autorickshaw drivers,” Harish Rao said.

Rajeshwar Reddy also pointed out that women are facing a tough time due to the lack of sufficient buses after the implementation of free bus travel for them on TSRTC buses.

“It is the responsibility of the state government to consider the plight of the autorickshaw drivers affected due to the Mahalakshmi scheme. Around 6.5 lakh auto rickshaw drivers face a tough time due to a lack of rides. As many as 21 auto rickshaw drivers lost their lives in the last two months due to financial troubles. The government should provide an ex-gratia of Rs 20 lakhs to the kin of deceased autorickshaw drivers,” he said.

Congress promises Rs 12,000 yearly assistance for auto drivers

Intervening in the speech of Rajeshwar Reddy, minister for IT D Sridhar Babu said that the Congress party had anticipated issues with the implementation of free bus travel for women in Telangana and promised to provide an assistance of Rs 12,000 per annum.

“We are committed to the welfare of autorickshaw drivers. We will implement the promise by making allocations in the next budget,” he said.

‘BRS never cared for auto drivers’

Minister for Transport Ponnam Prabhakar said that around 15 crore women travelled on the TSRTC buses and the State Government has funded Rs 530 crores for the ‘zero tickets’.

“The BRS which ruled Telangana for a decade not bothered about the TSRTC employees strike for 60 days and the plight of auto rickshaw drivers during their regime. Not even Rs 1,000 was given as assistance to them. The BRS leaders are insulting the autorickshaw drivers by travelling in it with their feudalistic mentality,” he said.

Minister for Women and Child Welfare Danasri Seethakka demanded that the BRS MLAs disclose their stand on free bus travel for women. “What is the problem for the opposition MLAs while women are travelling for free on the buses? Are they opposing the scheme? It is nothing but to provoke the emotions,” she criticised.

Responding to the comment, BRS MLA Sunitha Lakshma Reddy said that the party welcomed the free bus travel for women on behalf of the party.

“Steps should be taken by the government to increase the number of bus trips and ensure a hassle-free journey for women and students. Apart from that, the government should also provide Rs 2,500 per month to women under the Mahalakshmi scheme,” she added.

BRS MLCs demand apology from Revanth Reddy

Condemning the alleged derogatory remarks made by CM Revanth Reddy to MLCs, the BRS MLCs staged a protest before the podium of the Telangana Legislative Council by wearing black scarves and demanding an apology from the chief minister. With the situation going out of control, council chairman Gutta Sukendar Reddy adjourned the session for ten minutes to restore normalcy in the sessions.

Sukendar Reddy informed the agitating BRS MLCs that the complaint about the chief minister was taken to the notice of the Telangana Legislative Assembly secretary. The police stopped BRS MLC Mote Shobhan Reddy while he was bringing black scarves into the Assembly. The police asked the MLC not to enter the sessions by wearing black scarves.

This led to a heated argument between MLCs and marshals. MLCs Bhanu Prasad, Shobhan Reddy, Tatha Madhu and Mahmood Ali went inside the House and said that it is their right to protest, and they were even ready to get suspended from the sessions.

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