Days after four MLCs from the Congress defected to the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS), Congress MLC Shabbir Ali on Monday moved the Hyderabad High Court and sought to declare the move, which also led to the subsequent merger of the Congress Legislature Party into the TRS Legislative Party, as 'illegal'.
Shabbir argued that the Election Commission of India was the competent authority to carry out the merger, adding that the Telangana Council Chairman did not have that power. He also sought for the disqualification of the four MLCs who had defected.
Just days ago, the four MLCs, led by Akula Lalitha (who had contested the Armoor seat on a Congress ticket) met Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao 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 stateâs 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 latest move also nullifies the 'Leader of Opposition' tag of senior Congress leader and former state Minister Shabbir Ali.
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 âdisqualification on ground of defection need not apply in case of a merger.â
Earlier in the week, TPCC chief Uttam Kumar Reddy shot off a letter to the Councilâs Chairman and said it was âpreposterousâ that some members who had already defected to the TRS were making such a demand.
âWe appeal to you to protect democracy in Telangana and reject their letter and disqualify the four members of the Council for anti-party activities,â the letter signed by Uttam Kumar and Shabbir Ali read. The Congress leadersâ 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.