Telangana becomes Congress-mukt, 12 MLAs seek merger with TRS

K Chandrashekar Rao, Telangana Chief Minister, KCR, PM Narendra Modi, Adani issue
KCR was replying to the debate on the Appropriation Bill in the Telangana assembly on Monday when he made these comments (file photo)

In a major blow to the Congress in Telangana, 12 of its 19 MLAs met the Assembly Speaker P Srinivas Reddy on Thursday (June 6), seeking to merge with the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS). They had defected to the ruling camp in batches over the last six months.

Earlier in the day, a Congress legislator from Tandur constituency Rohith Reddy, quit the party and switched over to the TRS, taking the total number of defectors to 12. With the state Congress president and MLA N Uttam Kumar Reddy resigning from the Assembly following his election to the Lok Sabha from Nalgonda constituency, the opposition party’s strength in the 119-member Assembly came down to 18.

The calculation in the ruling camp is that since two-thirds of the Congress legislators have switched their loyalty to the TRS, they will not attract the provisions of the Anti-defection Act.

A letter containing the signatures of 12 MLAs was submitted to the Speaker, with a request to merge the Congress Legislature Party with the TRS. Earlier, they met the TRS working president KT Rama Rao, where the decision to seek merger was taken.


With its tally being reduced to 6, the Congress now faces the prospect of losing the main opposition party status. The All India Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), the friendly party of the TRS, will get the opposition status as it has 7 MLAs.

Writing on the wall

The writing on the wall was clear for the Congress soon after the December 2018 Assembly elections as it suffered steady desertions from its camp.

The TRS, headed by K Chandrasekhar Rao, swept the Assembly polls and secured a second term in office, bagging 88 seats. The opposition alliance ‘Mahakutami’, comprising Congress, Telugu Desam Party, CPI and Telangana Jana Samithi, suffered a severe drubbing. The TDP, which was once a formidable force in the region, managed to win just two seats while BJP, Forward Bloc and independents won one seat each. With the independent and Forward Bloc MLAs shifting loyalties to it, the TRS improved its tally to 90 within a week of the results being announced.

Now, the TRS’ strength has crossed the 100-mark, the target set by KCR, as the Chief Minister is popularly known, during the electioneering.

A common refrain of the defectors has been that they were “inspired” by KCR’s commitment to the development of the state and that he alone could take India’s youngest state to glorious heights.

No opposition leader status

As the monsoon session of the Assembly is scheduled to commence later this month, the Congress stands to lose the status of main opposition party since it requires 10 per cent of the total strength of the House. The Congress floor leader Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka will lose the status of Leader of the Opposition, which is equivalent to Cabinet minister rank.

The State Legislative Council has already become ‘Congress-mukt’, with four of its six MLCs defecting to the TRS while the term of the remaining two ended in March.

Existential crisis

Several factors have contributed to the present existential crisis of Congress. Despite granting statehood for Telangana during the UPA-II in 2014, the grand old party has failed to capitalise on it but allowed KCR to walk away with all the credit and reap electoral benefits by positioning himself as the architect of the new state. The party could win just two LS seats in the 2014 elections while the TRS walked away with 12. It was a poor show in the Assembly polls as well with the opposition party managing to win 21 seats.

The absence of a strong and charismatic regional leader with a state-wide appeal had a telling effect. The party had, over years, failed to nurture strong regional leaders who could take independent decisions and stand up to the emergence of a formidable regional player. Added to the party’s woes were fierce infighting and groupism and lack of a cohesive campaign strategy.

The TRS played the ‘Telangana pride’ card to the hilt in the recent Assembly polls. As a result, the Congress suffered badly because of its alliance with the Chandrababu Naidu-led TDP, widely seen as an ‘enemy of Telangana’.