Telangana: 12 Congress MLAs who switched to TRS haven’t resigned yet

Sreenivas Janyala
AICC Telangana in-charge R C Khuntia and TPCC president N Uttam Kumar Reddy at a press conference in Hyderabad on Friday. PTI

The 12 Congress MLAs, who gave a representation to the Telangana Assembly Speaker to merge their group with the TRS Legislature Party (TRSLP), are yet to officially resign from the Congress. Maheshwaram MLA P Sabita Indra Reddy is vice-president in Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC), while Athram Sattu and Rega Kantha Rao are the party state unit’s general secretaries. They have not resigned from their posts yet.

However, as the 12 legislators represent two-thirds of the 18 Congress MLAs in the state Assembly, their request for a merger with the TRS has been approved by Speaker P Srinivas Reddy.

The Speaker agreed to their request to merge their group with the TRSLP as they constitute two-thirds of the total 18 Congress MLAs, an official of the Telangana Legislature Secretariat said.

Congress leader Shabbir Ali said that the MLAs sent voice messages or text messages over the phone, hinting that they will resign. "But none of them have actually quit the party or from the party posts. They are either conveying their intentions through media or via messages on phone… They have to first resign from the party if they want to join any other party," Ali said.

Read | Congress condemns defection of its 12 MLAs in Telangana, says it happened due to money power

On Friday, seats were also allotted to the 12 rebels alongside TRS members in the Assembly, indicating that they are now members of the TRS. The Legislature Secretariat issued a note that the Speaker had accepted the group of 12 Congress MLAs as merged with TRSLP. The groups’ request to merge with TRSLP was also accepted by TRSLP leader and Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao and the decision was conveyed to the Speaker.

Sources in the TRS said that 11 Congress MLAs had been trying to join the TRS for the last five months, but the party leadership scuttled their attempts due to the anti-defection law. On Thursday, however, Congress MLA from Tandur, P Rohith Reddy suddenly announced that he was resigning and joining TRS.

Read | TRS defends 12 Congress MLAs joining its ranks in Telangana

This gave the group another opportunity to seek a merger with the TRS. With Rohith Reddy joining them, the rebels’ strength rose to 12, which is two-thirds of the total of 18 Congress MLAs and they can escape the anti-defection laws. They immediately went and met TRS working president K T Rama Rao, who sent them to the Speaker, a party leader said.

TPCC chief N Uttam Kumar Reddy said that over the last five months, the TRS worked on luring the Congress MLAs.
This was very well-planned to make the Congress lose the Leader of Opposition status in the Assembly. If the merger of the Congress MLAs group is not reversed, which is our demand, AIMIM with 7 MLAs will be the Leader of Opposition, which is an ally of TRS, he said.

Meanwhile, the rebel MLAs said they were waiting for the merger process to be completed. We will formally send resignation letters to Congress after the formalities are completed. We did not want to discuss with Congress leaders… R Kantha Rao said.