In another blow for Congress in Telangana, 12 of its MLAs on Thursday met Assembly Speaker Pocharam Srinivas Reddy and sought merger of the group with the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS).
The MLAs met the Speaker at his residence and submitted a memorandum claiming that the decision to merge with the TRS was taken at a meeting of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP), a claim the state Congress President N Uttam Kumar Reddy rejected.
Reddy said the defectors cannot claim to have convened a Legislature Party meeting without his permission. "The Congress will fight it democratically, we are looking for the Assembly Speaker since morning, he is missing. You people help us in finding him," he said.
"We are going to Telangana High Court tomorrow and if we don't get sufficient remedy, we will go to Supreme Court. We will also be filing cases in the Lokpal with evidence of MLAs benefiting out of changing parties. We are going on 36 hour fast on June 8," he added.
He also said the MLAs have been periodically expressing their wish to join the TRS and they should have been disqualified by the Speaker when the Congress filed a disqualification petition against them. The disqualification petititons have been kept pending, he said.
"We are going to Telangana High Court tomorrow and if we don't get sufficient remedy, we will go to the Supreme Court. We will also be filing cases in the Lokpal with evidence of MLAs benefiting out of changing parties. We are going on a 36 hour fast on June 8," he said.
The Congress leader also accused the speaker of not withholding the dignity of his office.
"The Speaker hasn't withheld the dignity of his office. We tried to contact him by every means but he wasn't available for us," he said.
"But in some secret place, the Speaker took some representation from defected Congress MLAs against whom disqualification notices under anti-defection law are pending with him and announced the merger of Congress Legislature Party. Can anything be more disgraceful?" he asked.
Meanwhile, another party MLA Pilot Rohithreddy from Thandur constituency has resigned from the party and is likely to join the TRS. He was suspended from TRS last year after which he joined the Congress. He won the election from Tandur.
Uttam Kumar Reddy, who was elected to Lok Sabha recently, has also resigned from Huzurnagar Assembly constituency.
Speaking on the development, Congress leader V Hanumantha Rao said, "TRS has bought our MLAs like cattle. They are not letting me in spite of the fact that I am a former MLA, a minister and three-time MP. KCR is frightened of opposition. 12 MLAs have merged with TRS."
Talasani Srinivas Yadav, Minister of Animal Husbandry in the Telangana government rejected these allegations.
"You see in West Bengal, elected MLAs, elected corporators are being inducted into BJP. So, before levelling allegations, you must look at yourself. The MLAs in the Assembly say that your (Congress) leadership is not good. They say that if we go with TRS, then development will take place," he said while talking to ANI.
"When you engineer (defections) it, then it is legal but when others engineer it, then it is illegal. Out of 17, 12 people are there (joining TRS), so how is it illegal?" he questioned.
"They don't trust your leaders. They (MLAs) themselves met the speaker," he added.
Reacting to the development, state BJP president Dr Laxman accused the ruling TRS of making politics in the state a "costly affair".
"After the formation of the new Telangana state, politics has taken a different shape. Ruling TRS has made politics a costly affair. People with money and disproportionate wealth are entering politics especially the ruling party. It has become a common phenomenon in Telangana - defections," he said.
"Surprisingly, wholesale defections are taking place. I fail to understand why TRS is encouraging though they have a clear majority. Except for BJP, MLAs of all the parties have defected. So, this has become a common phenomenon. Earlier, Congress encouraged mass defections. Now, TRS is doing. There is not much change," the BJP leader said.