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CLP leader launches indefinite past on Cong-TRS merger

Congress Legislature Party leader M Bhatti Vikramarka launched his fast for 36 hours at the Dharna Chowk here, but state Congress president N Uttam Kumar Reddy said in the evening that it has been converted into an indefinite one.

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CLP leader launches indefinite past on Cong-TRS merger
Uttam Kumar Reddy,
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A Congress leader in Telangana Saturday began an indefinite fast in protest against the "illegal" merger of 12 party MLAs with the ruling TRS, even as AIMIM announced it would seek opposition status in Assembly as it now has more number of MLAs than Congress.

Congress Legislature Party leader M Bhatti Vikramarka launched his fast for 36 hours at the Dharna Chowk here, but state Congress president N Uttam Kumar Reddy said in the evening that it has been converted into an indefinite one.

"When a disqualification petition is pending, it means we have announced that the concerned person does not belong to Congress party.

Then his Assembly membership should be cancelled," Uttam Kumar Reddy said at the protest venue.

"But, how did Speaker accept letter (seeking merger with TRS) on 6th (of June) by considering them as Congress MLAs. We seek an explanation to people of Telangana," he said.

The breakaway MLAs themselves have announced that they are leaving Congress, Reddy said.

Addressing the gathering, AICC in-charge of Congress affairs RC 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.

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.

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.

Vikramarka said the fast has been taken up to safeguard democracy as values of democracy and Constitution are hurt.

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

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.

AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi said his party would urge the Speaker to confer opposition status on his party as it has more MLAs than Congress.

"... We will urge the Telangana Speaker, because MIM is second largest party, MIM should get Leader of Opposition post," Owaisi told reporters.

His party would meet the Speaker and submit a representation to him, he said, hoping that the Speaker would positively consider the request.

The BJP was given the post of Leader of Opposition in Delhi Assembly though the party had only three MLAs in the 70-member House, he said.

Dismissing Congress' attack on his party, TRS working president K T Rama Rao said there was nothing unconstitutional in what happened.

He said TRS MLCs and MPs were admitted into Congress in the past.

The bulletin released by the Speaker is clear that two-thirds of Congress MLAs sought to join TRS which was accepted by the leader of TRS legislature party, following which the Speaker accepted the merger, Rama Rao said.

"What is against the Constitution or law in this," he said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said during election campaign in West Bengal that 40 TMC MLAs were in touch with him, Rama Rao said.

Three TMC MLAs and 40 councillors have been admitted into BJP, he claimed.

"What are they (Congress) speaking? As if party changes are happening only in Telangana and that something happened to democracy only here," he said.

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

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.

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