With the defection of four MLCs to the TRS, the 'Opposition' status that Congress enjoyed in the Legislative Council has been cancelled as the party only has two members left.

After 4 MLCs defect to TRS Congs Shabbir Ali loses Opposition Leader tagImage: Facebook/Shabbir Ali
news Politics Sunday, December 23, 2018 - 10:16

In yet another major blow to the Telangana unit of the Congress, the Legislative Council on Saturday issued a notification cancelling the 'Leader of Opposition' tag of senior Congress leader and former state Minister Shabbir Ali. The notification comes after four out of six remaining Members of Legislative Council (MLC) from the Congress had defected to the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) in the state.  

The four MLCs, led by Akula Lalitha (who had contested the Armoor seat on a Congress ticket) met Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao on Friday and later submitted a representation to Telangana State Legislative Council Chairman K Swamy Goud and sought to merge into the TRS Legislative Party in the state’s Legislative Council.  

Even as the Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) cried foul, the chairman ratified the defection, thereby cancelling the 'Opposition' status that Congress enjoyed. A party needs at least four MLCs in the state's Legislative Council for the same. The Congress at present has only two MLCs—  Shabbir Ali and Ponguleti Sudhakar — whose term will end in March next year.  

The Congress MLCs who defected argued that they had the required strength for merger into TRSLP under paragraph 4 of the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution of India. The paragraph being cited by the leaders in the Constitution deals with disqualification of elected representatives, and says that ‘disqualification on ground of defection need not apply in case of a merger.’

Earlier in the week, TPCC chief Uttam Kumar Reddy shot off a letter to the Council’s Chairman and said it was ‘preposterous’ that some members who had already defected to the TRS were making such a demand.  

“We appeal to you to protect democracy in Telangana and reject their letter and disqualify the four members of the Council for anti-party activities,” the letter signed by Uttam Kumar and Shabbir Ali read. The Congress leaders’ representation to the Chairman also argued that he was not the competent authority to merge a political party as per the Constitution, and said that several judgements of the Supreme Court have upheld this.

However, with the Chairman going ahead with his decision, it remains to be seen if TPCC leaders would move court on the issue. 

Meanwhile, in a related development, the Chairman also accepted the resignation of TRS MLC Konda Murali, who had defected to the Congress in September, along with his wife Konda Surekha before the Telangana Assembly polls. Murali had submitted his resignation letter at the time of his defection.

 

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