‘Brazen Murder of Democracy’, Says TL Cong Over MLAs Defections
With two-thirds of the party MLAs seeking merger with the ruling TRS in Telangana, Congress state unit head N Uttam Kumar Reddy, on Thursday, 6 June, told The Quint that “there is no threat for the Congress party”.
Reddy lashed out at Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, accusing him of 'purchasing' the legislators. “A chief minister living in the illusion that he can buy out elected representatives of other parties and thinking that they are getting strengthened by that is living in an illusionary world,” Reddy said.
In a huge setback for the Congress in Telangana, 12 of its MLAs on Thursday met Assembly Speaker P Srinivas Reddy and gave him a representation to merge the Congress Legislature Party with the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi.
The Congress' strength in the 119-member House came down to 18 after the party's Telangana state unit chief Uttam Kumar Reddy tendered his resignation from the Assembly on Wednesday, 5 June, after being elected to the Lok Sabha from Nalgonda.
In March, 11 Congress MLAs had announced that they would join the TRS.
“They (Congress MLAs) don't trust their party leadership so they are saying that this government (TRS) is better as there is development and welfare in the state,” said Talasani Srinivas Yadav, Telangana Minister.
‘Murder of Democracy’
Uttam Kumar Reddy took to Twitter to slam the Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrababu Naidu, calling the turn of events "murder of democracy".
"This is the most shameless and brazen murder of democracy in Telangana – KCR buys a few @INCTelangana MLAs and the defectors apply for merger of Congress Legislature Party (CLP) into TRSLP even while their disqualification petitions are pending with the Speaker," he tweeted on Thursday.
He and other senior Congress leaders in the state have been taken into preventive custody after they staged a protest with black bands on their mouths on Thursday against the rebel MLAs and the ruling party outside Assembly, reported The News Minute.
Uttam Kumar also alleged that KCR was “pressuring the Speaker to illegally and immorally merge the CLP into TRCLP”.
Speaker Not ‘Traceable’: Uttam Kumar Reddy
Each time a Congress MLA defected to the TRS, the Congress had submitted disqualification petition to the Speaker, Reddy said, adding, each of them should have been disqualified at that point of time itself.
“All of you in the national media are thinking that there is a group of MLAs who have gone to their side. But that is not the fact,” Uttam Kumar added.
“Over the last four to five months, MLAs have been purchased or threatened one by one to join the ruling party. Each of their disqualification petitions is pending before the Speaker. Any normal Speaker would have disqualified them and they wouldn’t have been speakers today.”Uttar Kumar Reddy told The Quint
"The Supreme Court has held in many cases that Speaker does not have the power to merge a national party into a regional party," Reddy said.
“The Speaker is colluded in an illegal act with the chief minister,” he added, saying that the party has been trying to approach the Speaker, but he was not "traceable".
“But they say these MLAs have met him. I have myself called him 50 times on his phone, at his residence, and his staff. They say they don't know where he has gone. He is not in the Assembly, not at his house,” he added.
‘Congress Leaders Threatened With Criminal Cases’
Uttam Reddy told The Quint that Congress leaders are being “threatened with criminal cases”.
“Rohit Reddy (one of the leaders who joined TRS) told me this morning that he is being threatened with criminal cases and is under a lot of pressure. Harshvardhan Reddy says that the court had ordered for some compensation to be paid in some case and the government was delaying him that payment,” he said.
He also claimed that some MLAs have been brazenly paid cash. “And remember, the Congress party's base strength is not affected by defection of MLAs. In fact, many of these MLAs were defected before the parliamentary elections and the Congress party got a majority in those constituencies in the parliamentary elections,” he added.
"High court said there is no urgency of the matter and it will hear it on 11 June. We are mentioning it in the high court as soon as it assembles on Friday. If the court does not accept our plea, we will go to the Supreme Court," he added.
“We will bring in new leaders in the constituencies where MLAs have left, and there is no fear of any weakening of the Congress party,” Reddy said.
Telangana Cong Chief Lifts Ban on TV Debates
The News Minute reported that All India Congress Committee Spokesperson Dr Sravan Dasoju said, "Considering the present political dynamics in Telangana, in consultation with AICC Media Department, TPCC President has LIFTED the moratorium on attending TV debates by our spokespersons.
“All the TPCC spokespersons and important leaders are requested to attend the media debates and expose the undemocratic and anti-constitutional attempt of merging CLP into TRS (sic)."
Senior Congress legislator Gandra Venkata Ramana Reddy said the 12 MLAs decided to work with the chief minister for the development of the state.
He further confirmed that they gave a representation to the Speaker requesting him to merge them with the TRS.
"We held a special meeting of the Congress Legislature Party. The 12 members supported the leadership of Chief Minister KCR and wanted to work with him. We gave a representation to the Speaker and requested him to merge us with the TRS," Reddy said.
MLAs Will Not Attract Anti-Defection Law Provisions
As 12 MLAs account for two-third of the Congress Legislature Party, which has an effective strength of 18, they will not attract provisions of the anti-defection law, officials said.
If the Speaker accepts their request, the Congress may lose the Opposition party status as its strength will come down to just six.
The AIMIM led by Hyderabad Lok Sabha member Asaduddin Owaisi has seven members in the Assembly, while the BJP has just one.
The TRS won 88 seats in the Assembly polls held in December last year.
(With inputs from PTI, The News Minute)
(This story was auto-published from a syndicated feed. No part of the story has been edited by The Quint.)