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After Speaker Approves Merger of 12 MLAs with TRS, Congress Set to Lose Opposition Status in Telangana

After Speaker Approves Merger of 12 MLAs with TRS, Congress Set to Lose Opposition Status in Telangana

Amid high drama and protests by Congress leaders in the Telangana Assembly, 12 of its 18 MLAs were recognised by the Assembly Speaker as members of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS).

Chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao succeeded in luring the 12 MLAs — a two-thirds majority of the Congress Legislative Party — into his party's fold, leading to Speaker P Srinivas Reddy acceding to their request on Thursday.

Seats were allotted to the defectors along with TRS members in the House, the Speaker said in a bulletin from the Assembly. The 12 MLAs include former home minister Sabitha Indra Reddy (Maheshwaram), D Sudhir Reddy (LB Nagar), J Surender (Yella Reddy), Rega Kantha Rao (Pinapaka), GV Ramana Reddy (Bhupalapally), Pilot Rohit Reddy (Tandur), K Upender Reddy (Paler), Haripriya Nayak (Illandu), Vanama Venkateshwar Rao (Kothagudem), Ch Lingaiah (Nakirekal), Atram Sakku (Asifabad) and B Harshavardhan Reddy (Kollapur).

With this move, the tally of TRS MLAs rose to 100 while the Congress, with only six MLAs, is set to lose its status as the Opposition party.

The All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), led by Hyderabad Lok Sabha member Asaduddin Owaisi, has seven members in the assembly, while the BJP has one.

The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) had won two seats in the December polls that saw the TRS scoring an impressive win, but one of them had also announced his decision to join the ruling party.

The speaker's decision came after the embattled Congress cried foul, accusing the TRS of purchasing its MLAs and announcing its decision to move court on Friday.

Party spokesperson Pawan Khera, who described the development as "a daylight murder of democracy", said this was not a healthy practice for the country and it amounted to butchering of people's mandate, which the people of the southern state would never forgive.

Telangana Congress chief N Utham Kumar Reddy lashed out at the TRS for "shamelessly" purchasing its leaders by offering crores of money.

"This is the murder of democracy and a brazen step by chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao," he said.

Reddy also accused Rao of shifting the Assembly to his farmhouse and creating a sense of family rule, besides trying to smash the Congress.

"People voted for them... for the Congress. Buying those (Congress) MLAs by KCR is shameful. People of Telangana will not tolerate him for such shameful activities. You cannot remove the main opposition party (from the Assembly). You better shift the Assembly to your (KCR's) farmhouse," Reddy added. "This is completely illegal. KCR is cheating the mandate of the people of Telangana."

Reddy claimed that the speaker had refused to meet them, claiming he had failed to uphold the dignity of his office.

"We tried to contact him by every means but he wasn't available for us," said Reddy. "But in some secret place, the speaker took some representation from the defected Congress MLAs against whom disqualification notices under anti-defection law are pending with him, and announces merger of Congress Legislature Party. Can anything be more disgraceful?"

Reddy confirmed that the party would approach the Telangana High Court on Friday. "If we don't get sufficient remedy, we'll go to the Supreme Court. We'll also be filing cases with the Lokpal, with evidence of MLAs benefiting from changing parties," he said. "We are going on a 36-hour fast on June 8."

Congress leaders Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka, Sridhar Babu and Shabbir Ali and others had staged a protest, tying black badges around their mouths within Assembly premises. They also accused the speaker of having denied them an appointment.

The three protesting leaders were arrested and shifted to a police station.

Earlier in the day, the team of 12 Congress MLAs who jumped the ship met with TRS working president and former minister KT Rama Rao and got the nod for merger.

In the last Assembly, TRS had managed to lure 12 of the 15 TDP MLAs who won in the 2014 polls.

In the recently held Lok Sabha polls, the Congress won three seats, improving its tally from two in the 2014 polls. The TRS bagged a lower-than-expected nine Lok Sabha seats, while the BJP picked up four.

The TRS, however, swept the rural local body polls in Telangana, results of which were declared this week, winning a majority of the mandal and zilla parishad seats.

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