Sparks fly in Telangana Assembly: Revanth Reddy and Akbaruddin Owaisi clash over electricity

The dispute arose when Chief Minister Revanth Reddy pointed out the high transmission losses in Hyderabad South, where Old City — that houses Owaisi's constituency — is located.

ByRaj Rayasam

Published Dec 21, 2023 | 9:26 PMUpdatedDec 21, 2023 | 9:26 PM

Telangana Chief Minister Revanth Reddy and AIMIM MLA Akbaruddin Owaisi. (Commons)

A verbal altercation unfolded between Telangana Chief Minister A Revanth Reddy and AIMIM floor leader Akbaruddin Owaisi, intensifying the atmosphere in the Telangana Assembly on Thursday, 21 December, during a debate on the state’s power sector white paper.

The dispute arose when the Chief Minister pointed out to high transmission losses in Hyderabad South, where Old City is located and has a significant Muslim population. Owaisi questioned whether this referred to power theft or non-payment of bills.

He further cited the government’s response in the second Assembly, which stated that there was no power theft in the Old City.

Lost in translation

Chief Minister Reddy clarified that he was addressing power bill dues not only in Hyderabad South but also in Siddipet and Gajwel, represented by Owaisi, BRS’ Harish Rao, and former chief minister K Chandrashekar Rao, respectively. He emphasised the responsibility of MLAs of the three constituencies to advise power consumers to clear their dues.

Initially, the Chief Minister used the terms “transmission losses” and “non-payment of bills” interchangeably, causing confusion among AIMIM and BRS legislators. Harish Rao expressed confusion and criticised unfairness if the Chief Minister suggested people didn’t pay power bills or if he was asking MLAs to pay them.

Reddy clarified that MLAs should have ensured people paid their bills. Harish Rao emphasised using available means to recover dues from companies or water life pump facilities in arrears.

Faulting AIMIM for non-payment of bills in the Old City, Chief Minister Reddy questioned Owaisi’s claim as the sole representative of Muslims in Hyderabad and asserted the Congress’s stronger commitment to minority welfare.

Also Read: ‘Don’t tarnish image of Telangana’: Akbaruddin Owaisi leads Opposition charge, fact-checks Congress

Reddy, Owaisi go head to head

He further criticised AIMIM and BRS for not assisting the family of a Muslim woman Assistant Engineer who died in the 2020 Srisailam Left Bank Power Station fire. “It was the Congress leaders who visited her family members in Chaderghat in Hyderabad and helped them,” Reddy noted.

He added that it was the Congress that always stood for them (Muslims), whether in providing four percent reservations or empowering them. He said that the AIMIM, on the contrary, had always worked against the interests of Muslims.

He said that in Jubilee Hills, when the Congress fielded world-famous cricketer Mohammad Azharuddin, the AIMIM fielded its candidate with the sole intention of defeating the cricketing legend and helping the BRS win the seat. Similarly, KCR, who happens to a friend of AIMIM, went to Kamarareddy to defeat Mohammed Ali Shabber.

An angered Owaisi, slamming the parties which dubbed AIMIM as B team of the BJP, defended AIMIM’s stance against the BJP and refuted Reddy’s logic about fielding a candidate in Jubilee Hills.

Owaisi said that as an independent party, the AIMIM was free to contest anywhere. “Wouldn’t it look ridiculous if I say that the Congress had fielded Muslim candidates in seats where the AIMIM won with an intention of defeating AIMIM’s Muslim candidates? What kind of logic is this?” he asked.

While criticising the Chief Minister, Owaisi said that he knew how many parties Reddy had changed before he came to the Congress, to which the Chief Minister said that if the AIMIM leader talked about changing parties, then he too would have to talk a lot about how AIMIM had teamed up with former chief ministers N Bhaskara Rao, NT Rama Rao, Chandrababu Naidu, YS Rajsekhara Reddy, N Kiran Kumar Reddy, and K Chandrashekar Rao.

Also Read: White Paper on Telangana finances puts cumulative debt burden at ₹6.7 lakh crore

BRS leaders fight back

Reacting to the Chief Minister’s statement that he would expose how many parties the BRS had joined hands with in the past, Harish Rao said that his party had teamed up with the Congress in 2004 after it gave a commitment to deliver Telangana and when it did not keep its word, in 2009, it joined hands with the TDP, after making Chandrababu Naidu chant “Jai Telangana” slogans. He said that the BRS was not like Revanth Reddy, who had changed his plumes to further his own selfish interests.

Former energy minister G Jagdish Reddy, defending the BRS government, said that it had supplied power round the clock to all sectors. Though the power utilities had borrowed heavily, they had created assets which were more in value.

When the bifurcation of the state took place, the value of the assets of the power utilities was ₹44,494 crore. The debt on the books of the utilities at that time was ₹22,423 crore. But the value of the power utilities was now ₹1,37,579 crore.

Also Read: BRS’ failure pushed Discoms into debt trap, DyCM Bhatti Vikramarka tells Telangana Assembly