Two years down the line, TRS now seems comfortably ensconced with a sudden spurt in its membership

news Monday, June 27, 2016 - 14:13

Away from the national headlines, an interesting political scenario unfolds with hardly a splash.

Apparently not sensational enough to make it to the front pages of all papers, as compared to the recent crises in Himachal or Arunachal Pradesh, a game of defection is playing out in Telangana.

In the first-ever assembly elections held in the state of Telangana in 2014, Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) -a party created solely with the agenda of attaining statehood - assumed power with an absolute majority of 63 legislators in the 119-member assembly.

Two years down the line, TRS now seems comfortably ensconced with a sudden spurt in its membership, with the current figures touching 90, thanks to inter-party defections.

So what are the numbers now?

How did TRS get these numbers?

Other than the two seats that TRS won in by-polls which were held on the death of two sitting Congress legislators, the party has gained 25 seats through defection.

As of now, 7 MLAs from the Congress, 3 from YSRC, 2 from BSP, one from CPI and 12 from TDP have shifted their allegiance to the TRS from their respective parties.

Four Members of Parliament, four TDP MPs have also shifted allegiance to the TRS.

MLCs are no exception. The Congress this week alleged that 18 MLCs had defected to TRS and sought their disqualification. 

Why has anti-defection law not been used? 

T. Ravi -a political analyst- opines that although the situation may be similar to the one in Andhra Pradesh, the defections do not per se have major political implications, as the TDP had come to power with a comfortable majority.

He says, “This phenomenon is unique and can only be comparable to a situation in the 80s, when Marri Chenna Reddy who was the Chief Minister of undivided Andhra had espoused the cause of multiple defections, by awarding ministerial berths to MLAs belonging to the Opposition. Reasons go beyond the political in this case. It appears that the TRS has made all the necessary arrangements (including use of money as bait) to attract disloyal MLAs."

‘’It is against electoral ethics and the law, but nothing pro-active happens to deal with it, simply due to the Speaker’s inaction,” he adds.

Even senior journalist Srinivas Reddy concurs: “All such defecting MLAs should actually forfeit their membership. The Speaker ought to take an objective stance in the matter, but he seems to be acting as the stooge of the ruling party. This is totally anti-constitutional and against the Representation of People’s Act.”

“If at all an elected member has to change his party, one should give up his membership and seek re-election,” Reddy reiterates.

Political reactions

The Leader of the Opposition in Telangana Legislative Council, Mohammed Ali Shabbir fumes, "Instead of setting new standards of morals and ethics in the new state of Telangana, KCR has set a wrong precedent.”  

Though all the opposition parties in the state have condemned the chief minister for blatantly orchestrating such political defections, he hit back at them, even as he continued to welcome more defectors at the party headquarters in Hyderabad.

"These leaders come to join our party, as they are impressed with the developmental work that the government has undertaken. This should not be seen in a political light. Besides, Congress and TDP do not have the moral right to raise the issue of defections. Congress, when YS Rajasekhar Reddy was the Chief Minister, poached on some of our (TRS) MLAs. These leaders who talk about morality, did not raise their voice then," he remarked.

The situation is akin to what is happening in neighbouring Andhra too, where the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) employs similar methods to monopolize power in the State Assembly, and has succeeded in grabbing 20 MLAs from the YSRC alone.

AICC General Secretary Digvijay Singh has affirmed that the party would approach the Centre and the Election Commission, seeking a change in anti-defection laws to deal with the pressing issue.