Anti-defection law was grossly misused by the BRS regime

Ironically, the anti-defection law was implemented only when the issue boomeranged and legislators from the ruling BRS defected to Congress

HYDERABAD: In a blatant misuse of the anti-defection law, although 38 MLAs and 18 MLCs from opposition parties joined the ruling BRS between 2014 and 2023 none was disqualified. Some of them were even rewarded with ministerial berths in the cabinet.

Though MLAs and MLCs did not join in groups to meet the stipulated norm of two-thirds legislators changing party in one go to seek merger with the party they were joining to escape disqualification, 'mergers' of opposition parties with BRS were done both in the Legislative Assembly and Council.

Talasani Srinivas Yadav, who defected from the TDP, was inducted as a cabinet minister in 2015 even while still with the TDP, highlighting how anti-defection was brazenly violated in the last ten years.

Ironically, the anti-defection law was implemented only when the issue boomeranged and legislators from the ruling BRS defected to Congress.

Three of its MLCs K. Yadav Reddy, R. Bhoopathi Reddy and Sabavat Ramulu were disqualified for defecting to Congress in January 2019 within days of BRS filing disqualification petitions with the Council chairman K. Swamy Goud. But no opposition MLA or MLC was disqualified for joining BRS and disqualification petitions filed by opposition parties were kept pending until mergers with BRS happened or the tenure of legislators had ended,

After losing power in Telangana, BRS is now raising a hue and cry over violation of the anti-defection law after seven of its MLAs and an equal number of MLCs defected to the now ruling Congress in the past seven months.

Strangely, BRS working president K.T. Rama Rao continues to make bogus claims that BRS strictly followed the Constitution and took MLAs of other parties as per provisions allowed under law. He claimed the party allowed only merger of opposition MLAs with two-thirds majority, which is constitutionally valid as per anti defection law and never encouraged defections. An analysis of the mergers engineered by BRS exposes his lies.

During BRS government’s second term from 2018 December to December 2023, Congress Legislature Party (CLP) was merged with BRSLP in June 2019 on the grounds that 12 Congress MLAs out of its total of 18, representing two-thirds majority, had joined BRS in one go. But the reality was these Congress 12 MLAs joined BRS one after the other from March to June 2019 and not in one go. The Congress filed disqualification petitions against every defected MLA whenever they joined BRS. But no action was taken and the disqualification petitions were kept pending. Finally, when the defection number touched 12 and met the two-third majority norm, they were merged with BRS.

For instance, Congress MLAs Athram Sakku and Rega Kantha Rao joined BRS on March 5, 2019, Banoth Haripriya on March 10, P. Sabitha Indra Reddy and Kandala Upender Reddy on March 14, Devireddy Sudheeer Reddy on March 16, Beeram Harshavardhan Reddy and Chirumarthi Lingaiah on March 20, Jajala Surender on March 28, Vanama Venkateshwara Rao on April 7 and Gandra Venkata Ramana Reddy on April 23.

All these Congress MLAs were taken into the BRS fold by the BRS president and the then Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao. When Pilot Rohith Reddy joined Congress on June 6 meeting two-thirds majority, the CLP was merged with BRSLP on June 6 claiming that all 12 Congress MLAs had joined BRS in one go, which is constitutionally valid.

During BRS government’s first term from June 2014 to December 2018, seven Congress MLAs out of 21 joined BRS. There was no merger with BRS then as it did not meet the two-thirds majority norm. The Congress filed disqualification petitions against them. But the then speaker S. Madhusudhana Chary sat on the petitions for four years and allowed the defected MLAs to complete their full five-year term. Of the seven defected MLAs, four joined BRS in 2014, including G. Vittal Reddy, who joined in August, Koram Kanakaiah in September and Kale Yadaiah and Redya Naik (both in November) while Puvvada Ajay and Chittem Rammohan Reddy joined in April 2016 and N. Bhaskar Rao in June 2016

Same is the case with TDP’s ‘merger’ with BRS in March 2016 on the ground that 12 out of 15 its MLAs had joined BRS in one go. But the reality is that these 12 MLAs defected to BRS one after the other from October 2014 to March 2016.

The most bizarre was the case of Talasani Srinivas Yadav, who joined TRS on October 29, 2014 and Chandrasekhar Rao inducted him into his cabinet in December 2014. Yadav continued as a minister for more than a year as a TDP MLA till March 2016, when TDP was merged with BRS and Yadav officially became a BRS MLA.

TDP MLAs Talasani Srinivas Yadav and Teegala Krishna Reddy joined BRS on October 29, 2014, Challa Dharma Reddy joined on November 9, 2014, Manchireddy Kishan Reddy on April 22, 2015, G. Sayanna on December 4, 2015, Madhavaram Krishna Rao on May 30, 2015, K.P. Vivekananda on February 9, 2016, S. Rajender Reddy on February 16, 2016, T. Prakash Goud and Errabelli Dayakar Rao on February 10, 2016 and finally when Maganti Gopinath joined on March 10, 2016, TDP was merged with BRS by treating all these 12 MLAs as having joined in one go.

The merger of TDP with BRS for the second time in April 2021 was also done in a similar manner. TDP won just two seats in the December 2023 Assembly polls. Of them, Sandra Venkata Veeraiah joined BRS on March 2, 2019. The only other remaining TDP MLA Mecha Nageshwar Rao, joined BRS on April 7, 2021, and the very day TDP was merged with BRS.

The anti-defection law was grossly violated even in the Legislative Council. The CLP was merged with BRSLP on December 22, 2018 after four Congress MLCs joined the BRS. However, not all these four had joined in one go. M.S. Prabhakar joined BRS in December 2015 and K. Damodar Reddy in June 2018. Their disqualification petitions were kept pending. Finally, when the other two MLCs T. Santosh Kumar and Akula Lalitha joined BRS on December 22, 2018, the CLP was merged with BRSLP.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
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