Ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, the Congress in Telangana is facing a crisis of sorts with as many as six MLAs announcing their decision to leave the party to join the ruling TRS. Congress, which was part of a front comprising the TDP CPI and Telananga Jana Samithi, had won just 19 seats in the elections to the 119 member assembly in December last year.
However, two MLAs -- Atram Sakku and Rega Kantha Rao -- quit the party and announced their decision to join the TRS in the first week of this month. This was followed by two more party MLAs leaving the party. This came as a major setback to the Congress in the election scheduled for March 12 to fill five vacancies in the Legislative Council (in MLAs quota). Congress had fielded one candidate in the Council election.
The TRS had put up four nominees of its own and left one seat to its ally AIMIM of Asaduddin Owaisi in the poll. Crying foul, state Congress president N Uttam Kumar Reddy had accused the TRS of encouraging defection of its MLAs.
However, the TRS hit back, saying Congress too had admitted public representatives from other parties into its fold. A miffed Congress stayed away from the Council election. Their misery was compounded when senior leader and former minister P Sabita Indra Reddy also decided to leave the party. Soon after, another MLA K Upender Reddy had also announced his decision to join the TRS.
Congress MLA from LB Nagar in Hyderabad D Sudheer Reddy has also reportedly decided to support the TRS. Reddy could not be reached for his comments immediately.
TV channels aired footage of the MLA indicating his decision to support the ruling TRS to 'effectively address problems of his constituency and realise the promises he made." Speculation is also rife about some other MLAs quitting the party. Party sources said Congress may lose the status of the main opposition party if the number of MLAs it has falls below 12.
The front comprising Congress, TDP, CPI and Telangana Jana Samithi fared badly in the December 7 2018 elections winning only 21 seats. Congress won 19 seats while the TDP two. TRS clinched a landslide victory, bagging 88 seats. Facing an uphill task in the Lok Sabha election, Congress Friday night announced candidates for eight of the 17 Lok Sabha seats in the state.
The list features working presidents of state Congress A Revanth Reddy (Malkajgiri) and Ponnam Prabhakar (Karimnagar). Revanth Reddy, known as a firebrand leader, kicked off his campaign on Saturday by meeting party leaders to seek their cooperation.
Dismissing TRS claims of ensuring a better deal for Telangana if it gets 16 Lok Sabha seats (leaving Hyderabad constituency held by ally AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi), he sought to know who would be the Prime Minister if TRS wins. If the Congress came to power, Rahul Gandhi would be the Prime Minister, he said.
"TRS has no role in this (Lok Sabha election). This is an election between Congress and BJP. Chandrasekhar Rao ji (TRS president and Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao) is trying to play spoilsport," Revanth Reddy said.
(With inputs from agencies.)