Andhra Pradesh assembly speaker on Saturday disqualified 15 members of the legislative assembly belonging to the ruling Congress and the main opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) for violating party whips.
Speaker N Manohar, who heard the petitions moved by the two parties during the last few weeks, announced his decision on Saturday evening. Nine of those disqualified belong to Congress while six others are members of the TDP.
The nine Congress lawmakers who have been disqualified are: Alla Nani, G Ravi Kumar, D Chandrasekara Reddy, Jogi Ramesh, Perni Nani, B Sivaprasada Reddy, M Rajesh, S Krishna Ranga Rao and P Ramchandra Reddy.
The disqualified TDP rebels are: Amarnath Reddy, Praveen Kumar Reddy, Y Balanagi Reddy, Kodali Srivenkateswara Rao, Taneti Vanitha and P Sairaj.
The two parties had sought the disqualification of nine legislators each for violating party whips during the voting on no-confidence motion moved by the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) against the government in the assembly in March.
The legislators, majority of whom have switched loyalties to the YSR Congress party, supported the no-trust motion.
The TDP had issued a whip to all its legislators to remain neutral during the voting.
The speaker has not yet taken a decision on the disqualification of three other TDP legislators - Chinnam Ramakotaiah, K Harishwar Reddy and S Venugopalachari. During the hearing, they had told the speaker that they did not receive the party whip.
With less than a year to go for elections to the assembly, it was not clear if the disqualification will result in by-elections to these seats. The speaker disqualified the legislators two days before the second phase of the budget session, beginning Monday.
The speaker said the TDP petition for disqualification of another rebel Gangula Kamlakar was also pending. The opposition party had submitted the petition three days ago for disqualification of Kamlakar, who recently joined the TRS.
The number of legislators disqualified in the present Andhra Pradesh assembly has gone up to 34, which is a record in the state's history.
In 2012, the speaker had disqualified 19 legislators, including 17 belonging to the Congress party, who had joined the YSR Congress.