The Congress has been going ballistic against the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) since Thursday evening when Speaker P Srinivas Reddy accepted the application of 12 Congress MLAs to embrace the pink stole of the ruling party, form a separate group and merge with the TRS Legislature party.
The TRS says the group was well within its rights under the Anti-Defection law to leave its parent party. Its leaders say it is the Congress that has to introspect over why its legislators are leaving the party within months of being elected.
That is a fair point because the Congress national leadership is itself groping in the dark and seems least interested about the affairs of the Telangana Congress. The state unit too has more leaders than cadre, who are busy checkmating each other to ensure the rival does not get a plum posting. Even during the elections, the candidates were orphaned by Delhi, each one of them having to fend for himself or herself.
Congress chief Uttam Kumar Reddy has accused chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao of “buying” a few Congress MLAs, alleging that each of the defectors were paid crores of rupees to defect.
“These MLAs have been purchased, one at a time, over four months. The disqualification petitions of the MLAs is pending with the Telangana Speaker for four months now. The Speaker was not traceable or available to us or the media today. Congress party got majority in most of the assembly constituencies where our sitting MLAs defected to the TRS (in the Lok Sabha elections). The matter is pending in the Telangana Chief Justice’s court for over a month now,” said Reddy.
Giving it a caste spin as well, Reddy asked if KCR could not tolerate Bhatti Vikramarka, a Dalit MLA, as the Leader of the Congress Legislature Party.
Reddy is both right and wrong. Right because the Speaker did not pay heed to the Congress pleas. Wrong because each of the Congress MLAs had a different reason why they decided to board the TRS car.
Sabitha Indra Reddy for instance, was not happy with former Chevella MP Konda Vishweshwar Reddy jumping into the Congress ahead of the December assembly elections. She took her revenge by ensuring Vishweshwar Reddy’s defeat on a Congress ticket this time. Sabitha Reddy, who the late YS Rajasekhara Reddy used to call his “younger sister” and was Home minister in his cabinet, wants to ensure a brighter political future for her son Karthik Reddy and promises have reportedly been made to that effect by the TRS leadership.
Sabitha Reddy would also aspire to be a minister again and could be accommodated in the cabinet expansion expected later this month.
According to sources in the TRS, Gandra Venkata Ramana Reddy, MLA from Bhupalapally migrated bargaining for the Warangal Rural Zilla Parishad chairperson post for his wife, Gandra Jyoti.
Sudheer Reddy, the MLA from LB Nagar was one of the most vocal critics of Uttam Kumar Reddy within the Congress Legislature Party and had demanded a leadership change. This endeared him to the TRS leadership. Reddy has reportedly prepared a manifesto for LB Nagar that he expects the government to fulfil, so that his popularity in his constituency soars. Some others too have joined the ruling party as it will mean ease of getting developmental works sanctioned in their constituencies.
Pinapaka MLA Kantha Rao Rega reportedly had enough of the district-level politics of supremacy between Bhatti Vikramarka and Renuka Chowdhury and decided to chart his own course.
Another MLA who is also a contractor had bills running into crores of rupees pending with the Telangana government and being with the ruling party, he reckoned would help him recover his money.
Those who have missed the TRS car will look to board the BJP bus that is also in recruitment mode. The saffron party, ebullient after registering wins in four Lok Sabha seats, is bullish about 2023. Its catchment area will also be the Congress party, whatever little is left of it in Telangana.
In fact, the BJP was the reason why the TRS decided to greenlight the admission process soon after the results to the local bodies came in. It knew if the MLAs were kept waiting, some of them could start a parallel negotiation with the BJP.