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Will Congress MLAs Quit En Masse And Face By-Elections?

The unity among the Telangana Congress MLAs is being put to a litmus test over the non-revocation of the expulsion of two of their colleagues even after a High Court verdict.
Hyderabad | 5th June 2018
The unity among the Telangana Congress MLAs is being put to a litmus test over the non-revocation of the expulsion of two of their party colleagues even after a High Court verdict.

The Hyderabad High Court on Monday dismissed the petition of 12 TRS MLAs against a single judge order ruling as invalid the expulsion of Congress MLAs Komatireddy Venkat Reddy and S A Sampath Kumar.

For the uninitiated, the two MLAs were expelled from the Assembly through a resolution passed by the ruling party for their alleged unruly behaviour while the Governor was addressing a joint sitting of the two Houses of the state legislature on the opening day of the budget session. During the ruckus witnessed in the House, the Chairman of the Legislative Council Swamy Goud was injured in the eye allegedly due to the hurling of an uprooted mike. The two Congress MLAs were accused of being responsible for the incident and were expelled from the Assembly, and the other Congress legislators were suspended for the entire session.

A single judge of the High Court on April 17 set aside the expulsion. However, 12 TRS MLAs later filed an appeal against the order of the single judge, which was dismissed on Monday by a division bench of the High Court.

A controversy triggered off within the Telangana Congress soon after the court order with Komatireddy Venkat Reddy wanting en masse resignations of the Congress MLAs if the TRS government failed to revoke the expulsion by the evening of June 5. Reddy asserted that the two MLAs had made it clear to TPCC president Uttam Kumar Reddy and also the Leader Of Opposition in the Telangana Assembly K Jana Reddy, another top Telangana Congress leader, that they had agitated in the Assembly not for their self-interest but for the party, and that the party now needed to stand by them.

"The party leadership should protect and stand by us if the TRS fails to abide by the court verdict," he said, and added that he would request AICC president Rahul Gandhi to direct the party MLAs to resign en masse.

There are 12 Congress MLAs in the Assembly, and Reddy exuded confidence that the party would retain all the seats if by-elections were held and thus be able to give a fitting reply to the "autocratic" functioning of the ruling TRS.

However, differences cropped up in the Telangana Congress soon after Venkat Reddy's call for the en masse quitting. Jana Reddy denied that Venkat Reddy had discussed anything with him in this regard. He and other senior leaders including Uttam Kumar Reddy and Jaipal Reddy did not speak anything about any en masse quitting, and said only that they wanted an apology from Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao for his government's "unilaterally and autocratically" expelling the two Congress MLAs.

Political circles are now keenly watching these developments in the Congress. These circles wonder whether Rahul Gandhi would dare asking the 12 party MLAs to resign and face by-elections. Informed sources within the Congress feel that the party's high command would not take such a risk given the party is rife with dissensions at all levels. What is more, the sitting MLAs too seem do not appear keen at all to quit and risk by-polls.

It however is quite important for optics and morale that the party be seen as standing by those who risked their positions for it, and a litmus test is thus staring at the Telangana Congress.

The ruling TRS is meanwhile gearing up to ensure that its resolution expelling the MLAs does not get dented, and is seeking various legal options in this regard, informed sources said.
filed in:  Telangana, Telangana Congress, Komatireddy Venkat Reddy, S A Sampath Kumar, Resignations, Courts, Legal
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