Telangana MLAs’ defection: CLP leader Vikramarka launches 36-hour fast

Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka on a hunger strike - The Federal
Congress Legislature Party leader Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka during a hunger strike to protest the merger of Congress Legislature Party with TRS Legislature Party, in Hyderabad, Saturday, June 8. Photo: PTI

Congress Legislature Party leader in Telangana M Bhatti Vikramarka on Saturday (June 8) began a 36-hour fast here protesting the illegal merger of 12 party MLAs with the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi.

When contacted, Vikramarka said he is on a “satyagraha-fast.”

AICC in-charge of Congress affairs in Telangana R C Khuntia, state Congress president N Uttam Kumar Reddy and several party leaders were present at Dharna Chowk in the city, the protest venue.

Addressing the gathering, Khuntia alleged that the TRS sought to promote an autocratic regime and “finish” Opposition parties in the state through the merger of Congress MLAs.

The merger of the 12 Congress MLAs with TRS is “illegal” and “undemocratic”, he alleged.

Also read: TRS defends 12 Congress MLAs joining its ranks in Telangana

The Congress party respected a Dalit leader (Vikramarka) by making him the leader of its legislature party, Khuntia said and asked if Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao and TRS did not like a Dalit becoming leader of an Opposition party.

“Are we to understand that KCR and TRS does not like a Dalit leader to be leader of Opposition party,” he said.

The Congress has decided to go to the High Court and also Supreme Court, if need be, on the issue, besides raising it in Parliament, he said.

Telugu Desam Party polit bureau member Ravula Chandrasekhar Reddy and Telangana Jana Samiti leader M Kodandaram were present to extend their support to the protest.

In a dramatic turn of events, Telangana Assembly Speaker P Srinivas Reddy on Thursday recognised 12 MLAs of Congress as members of TRS, hours after they moved him seeking
merger of their group with the ruling party.

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

The Speaker acceded to the request of the MLAs considering the fact they constituted two-thirds of the Congress Legislature Party, a requirement for merger under the anti-defection law.

The Congress had won 19 seats in the Assembly polls in December last year, but in the past few months 11 of the MLAs had switched loyalties to the TRS though officially they did
not resign.

A day after Uttam Kumar Reddy resigned as MLA following his victory in the Lok Sabha elections and the seat was declared vacant, Rohith Reddy on Thursday joined the rebels, boosting their strength to the two-third figure of 12.

As the Congress strength has come down to six, one less than that of AIMIM, it may lose the status of the main Opposition party in the 119-member House.

After the Speakers decision to recognise the merger, the TRS strength rose to 100. An independent and one member each from Telugu Desam Party and AIFB have already pledged their support to TRS.

The TRS on Friday defended the action of the Congress MLAs, saying they have done so keeping in mind their political future and blamed the Rahul Gandhi-led party for failure to
keep its flock together.

Congress activists had staged protests at different places in Telangana in protest against the 12 party MLAs joining the ruling TRS.