Telangana's main opposition Congress on Monday decided to boycott the elections to the state Legislative Council scheduled on Tuesday in protest against the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and the way it was resorting to "engineering defections".
Accusing the TRS of undermining democracy by engineering defections in the opposition, state Congress chief Uttam Kumar Reddy said the party will not take part in the elections to the upper house.
Elections to five seats of the Council from the MLA quota are scheduled on Tuesday. Congress had fielded a candidate with the hope of getting support from both legislators of its ally Telugu Desam Party (TDP).
The Congress had 19 members in 119-member Assembly but with the defection of four MLAs during last one week, the tally has come down to 15. It required at least 21 votes to win the seat.
With one of the two TDP MLAs also crossing over to TRS, the ruling party is set to win four seats with the fifth seat going to its ally Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen.
Uttam Kumar Reddy said though they cooperated with TRS in unanimous election of Speaker and Deputy Speaker, the ruling party's attitude was undemocratic. He alleged that Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao was resorting to "undemocratic, illegal and unethical" practices to engineer defections in opposition parties.
Congress's floor leader in the Assembly, Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka said the TRS government's actions posed a threat to democracy.
"Opposition is required for a democracy to run effectively but the Chief Minister is trying to finish off the democracy by ensuring that there is no opposition," he said and called for a national debate on the happenings in Telangana.
A whip was also issued to all party members to boycott the election and abstain from voting.
In a major blow to the Congress in Telangana in December, four out of six remaining Members of MLCs from the party defected to the ruling TRS. The four MLCs, led by Akula Lalitha (who had contested the Armoor seat on a Congress ticket) met KCR and shifted their loyalties. This had left the Congress with only two MLCs â€” Shabbir Ali and Ponguleti Sudhakar â€” whose term has now come to an end.