With over 100 members of legislative assembly (MLAs) in a 119-member House following the defection of 12 Congress MLAs, the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) barely has an opposition.
The current scenario has made it easier for chief minister K. Chandrashekar Rao’s (KCR) government to pass bills, even in the legislative council, where the TRS occupies over 30 of the 40 seats.
The Congress after being reduced to just 6 MLAs, is in an embarrassing position as the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) with 7 MLAs, which is on “friendly" terms with the TRS, has staked claim to the leader of the opposition status. Telangana speaker and senior TRS MLA Pocharam Srinivas Reddy is yet to take a call on the matter.
“The opposition (in Telangana) is supposed to give constructive criticism, but if they only want to censure for the sake of it, it makes no difference. Yes, they have to point out defects (in government decisions or policies) and give suggestions," said senior TRS MLC Srinivas Reddy, adding that in his four years as a legislator he has “not heard anything constructive" from the opposition, which as of now is just one Congress MLC.
The TRS had won 88 of the 119 assembly seats in the 2018 state polls and the Congress 19. However, the latter received a jolt last week when 12 of its MLAs defected to the TRS, without drawing the anti-defection law. With three other defections—one from Telugu Desam Party, one independent and another from All India Forward Bloc—TRS’s tally is now up to 103, which allows KCR to take policy decisions without facing hurdles.
A similar situation also exists in the Delhi assembly. The ruling Aam Aadmi Party had won a staggering 67 seats in the 70-member assembly in the 2015 state elections. More recently, Andhra Pradesh chief minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy’s YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) also won 151 (out of 175) assembly seats (and 22 Lok Sabha seats) in the 2019 elections, leaving the Telugu Desam Party with just 23 MLAs.
“It is certainly not healthy for democracy, as the TRS has curtailed the voice of the Congress, which stands to gain in the future. KCR basically wants to undermine the Congress’ status in the state. No one expected KCR to actually take 12 defectors, especially after the grand old party won three Lok Sabha seats. And now, the Congress will have to show its mettle," said political analyst Palwai Raghavendra Reddy.
Congress leaders, led by Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee working president Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka, began a 36-hour indefinite hunger strike against the TRS in Hyderabad. They were later taken into custody by the city police.