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Major Blow to Telangana Congress: 4 MLCs Meet KCR & Defect to TRS

The move has left the Congress with only two MLCs, Shabbir Ali and Ponguleti Sudhakar, whose term will end in March.

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In a major blow to the Congress in Telangana, four out of six remaining Members of Legislative Council (MLCs) from the party have defected to the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), which recently swept the Assembly elections in the state.

The four MLCs, led by Akula Lalitha (who had contested the Armoor seat on a Congress ticket) met Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao on Thursday, 20 December.

On Friday, the four leaders met Telangana State Legislative Council Chairman K Swamy Goud and submitted a representation and sought to merge into the TRS Legislative Party in the state’s Legislative Council. This has left the Congress with only two MLCs — Shabbir Ali and Ponguleti Sudhakar — whose term will end in March next year.

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“We have the required strength for merger into TRSLP under paragraph 4 of the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution of India. We therefore, request you to accept our merger into TRSLP with immediate effect and our names maybe shown in the list of TRSLP in the Legislative Council,” the letter signed by Akula Lalitha, T Santosh Kumar, MS Prabhakar Rao and Damoder Reddy said.

What Does the Law Say?

The paragraph being cited by the TRS and the Congress leaders in the Constitution deals with disqualification of elected representatives, and says that ‘disqualification on ground of defection not to apply in case of merger.’

“A member of a House shall not be disqualified where their original political party merges with another political party and they claim that they and any other members of the original political party have become members of such other political party or, as the case may be, of a new political party formed by such merger,” the paragraph reads.

“The merger of the original political party of a member of a House shall be deemed to have taken place if, and only if, not less than two-thirds of the members of the legislature party concerned have agreed to such merger,” it says.

The four MLCs argued that they form two-thirds of the Congress Legislative Party’s (CLP) strength in the council and therefore, could go ahead with the merger.

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Telangana Congress Irked

This latest move has angered the Congress leadership in the state. Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) chief Uttam Kumar Reddy shot off a letter to the Council’s Chairman and said it was ‘preposterous’ that some members who had already defected to the TRS were making such a demand.

“We appeal to you to protect democracy in Telangana and reject their letter and disqualify the four members of the council for anti-party activities,” the letter signed by Uttam Kumar and Shabbir Ali read.

The Congress leaders’ representation to the Chairman also argued that he was not the competent authority to merge a political party as per the Constitution, and said that several judgements of the Supreme Court have upheld this.

“As per the constitution of the Indian National Congress, state units have no power to merge with other parties. A national party cannot be merged with a regional political party and seeking merger per se incurs disqualification,” the representation stated.

“Paragraph 4 of the tenth schedule to constitutions is not independent as it has to be read harmonious with other paras,” it adds.

(This article has been published in an arrangement with The News Minute)

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Topics:  Telangana   KCR   Congress candidate 

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