Hyderabad: In a major setback to the Congress just 10 days ahead to the Legislative Council elections, party MLAs Athram Sakku and R. Kantha Rao announced that they had decided to join the TRS to support Telangana state Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao.
In another significant development earlier on Saturday, Telugu Desam Sathupalli legislator Sandra Venkata Veeraiah, who is expected to join the TRS met Mr Rao at Pragathi Bhavan here.
Mr Sakku, the Asifabad MLA, and Pinapaka legislator Rega Kantha Rao said that they had recently met the CM and brought the problems of the Schedule Tribes, particularly of the Adivasis, to his notice. Mr Rao had assured that he would resolve all issues by personally visiting the tribal areas. They said they were confident that only Mr Rao, who brought statehood for Telangana, could resolve their problems.
The duo said they would resign their membership of the Telangana state Assembly if necessary and contest again on TRS ticket. They said they would consult legal experts and supporters.
Their defection comes as a shock to the state Congress leadership when it was forming up the votes to win a seat in the Council elections from the MLA quota. If the three legislators defect, the Congress-TD strength would fall to 18, below what is required to win a seat.
The TRS was short of six legislators when it proposed contesting for the fifth MLC seat on offer along with the MIM. With the three possible defections, the party now needs to raise the support of just three more legislators. The ruling party is confident that more legislators will join the party in the run-up to the MLC elections.
Meanwhile, a press communiqué from the Chief Minister’s Office said that Mr Veeraiah met Mr Chandrasekhar Rao with a request to release water for standing crops in Sathupalli, Wyra, Khammam, Paleru and Madhira constituencies as the crops were stressed without water and needed urgent intervention.
While considering his request the Chief Minister ordered Chief Secretary S.K. to take steps for the immediate release of water from the Nagarjunasagar left canal to ensure irrigation to two lakh acres in Khammam district.
Congress leaders had already cried foul that the TRS was poaching its legislators to secure a victory for the MIM at any cost.