Will go on hunger strike if Centre does not initiate SCB-GHMC merger, says new MLA

Updated - June 11, 2024 07:07 am IST

Published - June 10, 2024 07:00 pm IST - HYDERABAD

Congress MLA from Secunderabad Cantonment Narayanan Sri Ganesh during an interview with The Hindu in Secunderabad.

Congress MLA from Secunderabad Cantonment Narayanan Sri Ganesh during an interview with The Hindu in Secunderabad. | Photo Credit: RAMAKRISHNA G

After contesting elections on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ticket in 2019 and 2023 and losing, Narayanan Sri Ganesh won the Secunderabad Cantonment seat on an Indian National Congress (INC) ticket. The new Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) fields a range of questions, including civic amenities like water supply, educational infrastructure and the contentious Secunderabad Cantonment Board (SCB)-Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) merger. Excerpts from an interview with Siddharth Kumar Singh.

After contesting elections with the BJP twice, in 2019 and 2023, why did you switch to Congress this year?

My main goal is to do the best I can for the people of the Secunderabad Cantonment. I thought I will be able to do it in the Congress. Congress has fulfilled most of its pre-election promises within three months, with only a few schemes delayed due to the Model Code of Conduct (MCC). Despite this, everyone is pleased with the current State government.

How did people react to your shift from the BJP to Congress?

The response to my shift is evident from the majority of 13,206 votes with which the people elected me. Residents trust that I will bring much-needed development to the constituency together with the State government. They believe that the schemes launched by the State government will reach them directly, without any corruption or foul play.

How is your relationship with the current Congress government in power?

My relationship with the current government is very good. I began my political journey with the Congress and after spending some time with other parties I am now back where I started. Additionally, Chief Minister A. Revanth Reddy, who was the Malkajgiri MP from 2019 until becoming CM, is well aware of the issues every part of the cantonment faces. During the election campaign, he even promised the people of the cantonment that the GHMC-SCB merger would take place.

With your win in this election, the political legacy of G. Sayanna ended. How do you see this?

The people who elect us are very observant. They know who will understand and address their problems. They chose me over other contestants because, despite losing the elections twice, I have remained actively involved in cantonment activities and continued my social work in the constituency. Many of the cantonment’s problems have persisted for years due to the failures of the previous MLA and government.

The biggest issue currently in the constituency is the merger of the SCB with the GHMC.

For the past decade, many leaders have fought for this merger, but the BJP government has consistently opposed it. A nominated SCB member representing the BJP even wrote a letter to the Union Defence Minister explaining why the merger is not advisable. Unfortunately, BJP Telangana president G. Kishan Reddy endorsed the same letter. Moreover, it’s been nearly nine years without an election for the SCB. Now, I, along with the State government, will actively pursue this merger issue. We will initiate the process soon, and if the Central government does not respond, I am prepared to go on a hunger strike in Delhi until we get a response.

What is your plan for the constituency?

The Secunderabad Cantonment Board (SCB) has eight wards, but currently, only one ward receives water every alternate day while the remaining seven wards are not getting any water. My first priority is to ensure that every ward has a reliable water supply. Secondly, the constituency is lacking in educational infrastructure, as there is no degree college. We plan to establish one soon. Additionally, we will focus on improving roads, drainage systems, and other essential infrastructure. For women, we will establish Mahila Bhavans and set up skill training centres to help reduce unemployment. People buying plots in the cantonment have to pay an additional 3.5% in stamp and duty charges. While obtaining building permits is straightforward across the rest of the State, in the cantonment, residents often face delays of months or even years. These outdated ‘colonial’ rules benefit board members and brokers, which is why they oppose the merger.

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