While Raj Bhavan is still the venue for the celebrations, the government will conduct a parade that is open to the public.
In an unexpected twist, the Telangana High Court on Wednesday, 25 January, directed the state government to conduct the Republic Day celebrations on Thursday on a grand scale, with a full parade.
The high court clarified that the state government must follow the guidelines issued by the Centre for the celebration of the national festival.
The court ruling has come as a snub to the state government, which had sent a communication to Raj Bhavan that low-key Republic Day celebrations could be held there itself on account of the Covid-19 scare.
The Governor was previously denied the opportunity to inspect the guard of honor and unfurl the national flag on 26 January, 2022, as well, and had to be content with low-key celebrations at Raj Bhavan.
The reason given by the government in 2022 was that the state was just recovering from the effects of Covid-19.
But rumours are rife that the real reason for limiting the Republic Day celebrations to Raj Bhavan in 2023 is, apparently, the widening gulf between Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao and Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan.
The high court, giving its ruling on a lunch motion petition filed by one Srinivas, said that Republic Day celebrations should be a full-scale event and that the government was free to decide where it wants to hold them — not necessarily at Parade Grounds.
The court also directed the government to allow the public to attend the ceremony and partake in the festivities.
The advocate general, representing the state government, sought to defend its decision to restrict the celebrations to Raj Bhavan because of Covid-19.
He stated that Raj Bhavan was informed on 13 January itself that it cannot hold full-scale celebrations. He further assured that state government representatives and officials would attend the programme at Raj Bhavan.
However, the high court disagreed with the contention that the celebrations cannot be held due to Covid-19. The court, in turn, questioned the government regarding safety measures if it was so worried about the possible spread of Covid-19.
Reacting to the court’s verdict, BJP state president Bandi Sanjay Kumar described it as a “slap” on the face of the state government.
High Court direction is slap in face of KCR!
Court had to tell govt to celebrate Republic Day & follow rules.
To settle scores, KCR will go to any extent of denigrating constitution & democratic practices.
KCR should apologise to Governor & people of TS.
— Bandi Sanjay Kumar (@bandisanjay_bjp) January 25, 2023
Interacting with the media in Hyderabad, he noted that one could easily understand to what extent the situation has deteriorated if the high court has to intervene.
He said that KCR’s refusal to organise the Republic Day celebrations on a grand scale only reflected how anti-democratic he is and what respect he has for the Constitution.
He urged the state government to implement the high court’s orders if they had any respect for the institution of the judiciary.
Meanwhile, Union Tourism Minister G Kishan Reddy, speaking to reporters at Delhi, said that the actions of KCR were lowering the image of Telangana.
The High Court's directions to BRS Govt to carry out its basic constitutional duties and celebrate Republic Day is a huge slap on the face for Farm House CM
I hope atleast now good sense prevails and the required SoPs are followed for R-Day celebrations. #Telangana
— G Kishan Reddy (@kishanreddybjp) January 25, 2023
He added that it was shameful that the people had to get a court order to organise Republic Day celebrations. He stated that KCR’s attempt to scuttle the celebrations only showed how much respect he has for Dr BR Ambedkar.
Weighing in as well, BJP Rajya Sabha member Dr K Laxman hailed the high court ruling. He retorted that it was ridiculous to show Covid-19 as the reason for restricting the festivities to Raj Bhavan.
He stated that it was unfortunate that KCR should view even national festivals through the prism of politics.
Since the verdict, the state government has decided that the Republic Day celebrations will still be held at Raj Bhavan but with a parade on its premises.
At 7 am on 26 January, Telangana Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan will unfurl the national flag and inspect the guard of honour.
Following the verdict, Chief Secretary Shanthi Kumari, DGP Anjani Kumar, General Administrative Department secretary V Seshadri, and Protocol additional secretary Arvinder Singh reviewed the additional arrangements to be made at Raj Bhavan.
As the court has also directed the state government to allow the public to watch the parade, the police are making the necessary arrangements to comply.
According to sources, the decision to hold the parade at Raj Bhavan was taken as there is no time to make elaborate arrangements at a different venue.
Following the court order, that has obviously not gone in his favour, it is highly unlikely that the chief minister will be present at the Republic Day parade at Raj Bhavan.