Telangana: In case of hung assembly, Cong plans to shift its MLAs to ‘safety’ | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Telangana: In case of hung assembly, Cong plans to shift its MLAs to ‘safety’

By, Hyderabad
Dec 02, 2023 09:20 AM IST

The Congress is gearing up to keep its flock in Telangana together and prevent poaching of MLAs, in the event of a hung assembly, after the results of the elections are declared on Sunday

The Congress is gearing up to keep its flock in Telangana together and prevent poaching of MLAs, in the event of a hung assembly, after the results of the elections are declared on Sunday, people familiar with the matter said on Friday.

H Security personnel outside a strong room where EVMs are kept after the Telangana elections in Hyderabad on Friday. (PTI)
H Security personnel outside a strong room where EVMs are kept after the Telangana elections in Hyderabad on Friday. (PTI)

Though a majority of exit poll surveys indicated that the Congress would cross the absolute majority mark of 60 seats in the 119-member assembly, and displace the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) that has ruled the state since its inception, a few surveys predicted a hung House with no party getting a clear mandate.

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“If such a situation arises, BRS president and chief minister K Chandrashekar Rao (popularly known as KCR) would make every attempt to lure some of the Congress MLAs into his party fold so as to gain the absolute majority. In any case, the BRS has the support of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) as a backup,” a senior Congress leader said, seeking anonymity.

To be sure, exit polls are not always accurate and have often got the verdict wrong in earlier elections, especially in states with diverse populations, castes and communities. But they are useful in identifying trends.

In a bid to thwart any possible attempt by the BRS to poach its MLAs, the Congress high command has asked Telangana unit chief A Revanth Reddy to make arrangements and shift the elected party MLAs to a safer camp – preferably Bengaluru or any convenient place in Karnataka, where the party is in power – soon after the results are declared, the Congress leader quoted above said.

“The high command has also asked Karnataka deputy chief minister and state unit chief D K Shivakumar to make the arrangements for holding the camp in his state, in case the need arises,” the Congress leader said.

Speaking to reporters in Bengaluru, Shivakumar said the need for keeping the Telangana Congress MLAs at a safe location in Karnataka will not arise as the party will secure the majority in the elections, but added that he is ready to provide facilities if the situation arises. “I don’t think our MLAs can be poached. We are ready to provide facilities to the MLAs if asked for,” he said.

A second Congress leader from Warangal said that party candidates who have bright chances of winning have already started receiving messages from the party headquarters to be prepared to leave for the camp soon.

“If the Congress gets a clear mandate, there is no need for such a camp. But if there is a hung situation and the BRS crosses 50 seats, KCR will definitely indulge in poaching. That is why we have to have Plan B to protect our MLAs,” the second leader said, also seeking anonymity.

In 2014, the BRS (then Telangana Rashtra Samithi or TRS) won 63 seats, which was just three more than the absolute majority mark. Yet, within a few months, KCR poached 12 MLAs from the Telugu Desam Party, eight from the Congress, three from the YSRCP, two from the BSP, one from the CPI and an Independent. In 2018, too, the BRS lured opposition MLAs, though it had won 88 out of 119 seats. Besides 12 out of 19 Congress MLAs, it poached two TDP MLAs and two Independents.

“So, there is no surprise if KCR resorts to the same tactics this time, if he senses that there is any chance to return to power for a third successive term. So, it is always better to be alert and cautious. Hence, the plan to shift the MLAs to the camp in Karnataka,” the second Congress leader said.

The BRS dismissed Congress’s allegation and said the ruling party never poached or lured any MLAs from any party before. “Only those MLAs from other parties who voluntarily came forward to join the BRS were admitted. We never invited anybody,” BRS spokesman Dasoju Sravan said.

The Congress, which was decimated in the 2018 polls and ended up around 20 percentage points in vote share behind the BRS, ran an energetic campaign led by Reddy who attacked the BRS over corruption and anti-incumbency. KCR, on the other hand, underlined his welfare outreach and the raft of schemes that the state government operationalised over the last decade.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Srinivasa Rao is Senior Assistant Editor based out of Hyderabad covering developments in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana . He has over three decades of reporting experience.

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