15 legislators in AP disqualified

15 legislators in AP disqualified

Andhra Pradesh Assembly Speaker Nadendla Manohar on Saturday disqualified 15 legislators, nine from the Congress and six from the TDP, for defying party whips during the no-confidence motion in March.

The Speaker’s decision might spell trouble for Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy, who is technically running a minority government with the support of only 146  MLAs. The government is vulnerable to any major offensive from the Opposition during the 10-day session beginning on Monday.

The rebel MLAs have welcomed the Speaker’s decision. “We will show in the by-elections that the YSRC will once again sweep the polls and prove the innocence of  Y S Jaganmohan Reddy,” said Kakinada (city) MLA D Chandrasekhara Reddy, who is a close aide of Jagan.

This was the second instance of Congress members deserting the party for Jagan. In 2012, the YSRC swept the by-elections by winning 15 of the 18 seats, thanks to resignations by Congress MLAs who supported Jagan.

However, the ruling Congress is seemingly out of danger with 146 members in the Assembly, two short of the halfway mark if the House operates with its full strength of 294 members. With the disqualification of 15 members, along with another vacancy created by the death of a TDP member, the halfway mark required to sustain the government has come down to 139, since the House will have 278 members.

“The Speaker has kept the decision on the TDP MLAs’ disqualification in cold storage as there is a tacit understanding between the Congress and the TDP. This way, the TDP has once again saved the government,” alleged a YSRC spokesperson.

The Congress and the TDP legislature parties had pressed for disqualification of the rebel MLAs, who have decided to join either the YSRC or the TRS.

The Election Commission has announced that by-elections were unlikely if the tenure of the present House was less than six months.

In Andhra Pradesh, the by-elections are scheduled for May 2014, 11 months away. “It will be a difficult Assembly session, but the Congress will survive the test of popularity,” said party spokesperson and chief whip Gandra Venkatarama Reddy.

Fate of two

The 15 rebel MLAs are backing the YSRC. Of the other rebel TDP MLAs, K Harishwar Reddy has joined the TRS, while S Venugopala Chary chose to remain independent. The Speaker had reserved his decision on both.

Though the third rebel, Chinnam Ramakotaiah, had differences with the party leadership, he abstained from voting during the no-confidence motion, thus escaping disqualification. The TDP has welcomed the disqualifications. “At least now the rebels feel the heat of popular test before the general elections,” said TDP spokesperson Somireddy Chandrasekhar Reddy.

The Congress MLAs summoned by the Speaker last week were R V S K Ranga Rao (Bobbili), D Chandrasekhara Reddy (Kakinada City), A K Srinivas (Eluru), Maddala Rajesh Kumar (Chintalapudi), Perni Venkataramaiah (Machilipatnam), Jogi Ramesh (Pedana), Peddireddy Ramachandra Reddy (Punganur), Gottipati Ravi Kumar (Addanki) and B Sivaprasada Reddy (Darsi).

The TDP MLAs were P Sai Raj (Ichapuram), P Vanitha (Gopalapuram), Kodali Venkateswara Rao (Gudivada), N Amarnatha Reddy (Palamner), Praveen Kumar Reddy (Thambalapalle), Y Balanagi Reddy (Mantralayam), Chinnam Ramakotaiah (Nuzvid), K Hariswar Reddy (Parigi) and S Venugopala Chary (Mudhole).

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