Hyderabad: In a major setback to the Telangana Congress, 12 defectors from the party formed a group and merged with the TRS Legislature Party on Thursday. Assembly Speaker Pocharam Srinivasa Reddy approved the move in the evening. With this, the TRS officially has 102 MLAs, apart from a TD legislator who has joined the party.
Tandur Congress legislator Pilot Rohith Reddy jumped ship at the last minute in the morning, giving the legislators the numbers required to split the party and seek to join the TRS Legislature Party.
The stage was set on Wednesday when Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee chief N. Uttam Kumar Reddy quit as Huzurnagar MLA, upon his election as Nalgonda MP. That reduced the number of Congress legislators to 18, and the two-third mark needed to split the party under the anti-defection Act, came down to 12.
The 12th defector, Mr Rohith Reddy, met TRS working president K.T. Rama Rao in the morning and expressed his willingness to join the TRS.
Eleven Congress MLAs had previously announced that they would be officially joining the TRS.
After Mr Rohith Reddy’s decision, the 12 Congress MLAs on the direction of the TRS leadership held a meeting and passed a resolution to merge with the TRS Legislature Party (TRLP).
Later, the MLAs met Speaker Srinivasa Reddy at his residence in Ministers Quarters and submitted a letter requesting the merger.
In the evening, Assembly Secretary V. Narasimha-charyulu issued a bulletin recognising the merger of the Congress Legislature Party into the TRS Legislature Party.
Earlier, TRS working president K.T. Rama Rao hosted a lunch at Pragathi Bhavan for these MLAs.
The Congress won 19 seats in the recent Assembly elections. With the resignation of Mr Uttam Kumar Reddy as MLA (after he was elected MP), the total strength of Congress MLAs reduced to 18. To avoid disqualification under the Anti Defection Act, two-thirds of Congress MLAs were required to merge with the TRSLP. The TRS was waiting for one more Congress MLA to defect before it can take up the merger process.
TRS leaders were in touch with Mr Rohith Reddy since before the Lok Sabha elections. TRS sources said that Mr Rohith Reddy informed the TRS leaders that he would take a decision after the Lok Sabha elections.
Mr Rohith Reddy is a close associate of former Chevella MP Konda Vishweshwar Reddy. He decided that if Mr Vishweshwar Reddy wins as Chevella MP, he would continue in the Congress and if he was defeated, he would join the TRS. Mr Vishweshwar Reddy lost and then Mr Uttam Kumar Reddy resigned as MLA. This made the merger process easier.
After submitting the letter to the Speaker, one of the defectors, Mr Rega Kantha Rao told the media that the merger of the CLP into the TRSLP would be done as per the Constitution. He said that they (the defectors) have taken this decision for the development of their Assembly constituencies.
Gandra Venkata Ramana Reddy, who also defected from the Congress, said that they are ready to work under the leadership of Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao. He claimed that the people of their Assembly constituencies have accepted their decision on merging into the TRSLP. In the Zilla Parishad and Mandal Parishad elections they have voted in favour of them, he said.
MLA Vanama Venkat-eswara Rao said that all 12 MLAs have met the Chief Minister and he agreed to admit them into the TRS. He said after that they met the speaker and submitted a letter on the merger....