Defections make mockery of democracy in Telangana, AP

Defections make mockery of democracy in Telangana, AP

The winds of “Operation Akarsh” trapping legislators from the opposition parties,  are sweeping across the political landscape of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, two Telugu states with fairly stable governments with no foreseeable threat whatsoever to their governments. The aim of admitting legislators from opposition parties through inducement, blackmail or outright purchase seems to be aimed at the annihilation of the entire opposition rather than strengthening political base in the respective constituencies.

While it is highly debatable on who actually started horse trading, the present scenario in both the states is almost similar. In Telangana, the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) has almost emptied the legislative arm of the Telangana Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and is on its way to do the same with the beleaguered Telangana unit of the Congress. The same TDP which was decimated by the TRS in Telangana is determined to finish off rival YSRCP by admitting its MLAs and MLCs only to make sure that there is not much of opposition left to oppose its way of governance.

Only recently, TDP floor leader in Telangana state Assembly and party senior Errabelli Dayakar Rao joined TRS along with two more MLAs taking the total number of TDP MLAs joining TRS to 10 out of 15 who had won the 2014 elections. The strength of TRS in Telangana Assembly now stands at 81 out of 119, with the strength added from other parties, 4 MLAs from Congress, 2 from YSRC, 2 from BSP and 10 from TDP.

In 2014, a few months after taking over the reins as chief minister, K Chandra-sekhar Rao saw to it that 9 MLCs from Congress and Telugu Desam joined TRS. The new admissions had improved the strength of TRS to 15 in a House of 40 members in the newly bifurcated Legislative Council. 

In fact, the TRS was scouting for MLCs to increase its strength in the Council and then claim the post of Chairman from the Congress. The TRS fielded Swamy Goud for the post and successfully installed him.

In a similar move, 8 Congress MLCs of Andhra Pradesh jumped over to the TDP bringing the total strength of TDP in a house of 50 to 22 and gave it the edge over the YSRC and the Congress in the Elder’s House. However, Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu’s efforts to induce a TRS MLA in Telangana boomeranged when the alleged attempt to offer bribe to nominated member Elvis Stephenson to vote in favour of the party candidate backfired leading to the infamous cash for vote scam.

“We are unable to take up and complete any development projects in our constituency. My followers are worried about their political future. So I have decided to join ruling TRS,” defected member Dayakar Rao says. Bhuma Nagi Reddy who has joined TDP also says that he is fed up being in opposition all the time. 

“We need development and already two years have lapsed. I see no future in YSRC,” he said after formally joining TDP along with his daughter. In all, five YSRC legislators and 1 MLC joined TDP and at least 10 more are said to be in waiting.

Law makers’ grouseThe defected law makers’ grouse is that the ruling party in their respective states release funds only to ruling party MLAs and refuse to drop a dime to the legislators hailing from opposition parties. The MLAs fear an end to their political career as their poll time promises stay unfulfilled. In many cases, the legislators were offered plum posts either in the cabinet or nominated posts in the corporations. Financial inducement is also not ruled out in situations where all the above tricks fail to break the other party MLAs.

It is not always a happy ending for the defected legislators as the aggrieved party will try to get the traitors disqualified under the defection law. “I will never do this kind of politics, I would have asked the willing MLAs to resign to the post first and get re-elected from their constituencies,” YSRC Chief YS Jaganmohan Reddy said. He is confident that the Speaker will have no other option than but to disqualify his 5 legislators who joined the TDP.

However, such developments get dragged for years making a mockery of the system. The petition of the TDP in the Telangana Assembly urging the Speaker to disqualify its MLAs who defected to the TRS is still lying with the Speaker. While the turncoat MLAs enjoy the power of the ruling party, the speaker is yet decide on their fate even after two years. 

“Chandrababu Naidu can’t expect his flock to remain intact in Telangana and try to do exactly opposite by admitting YSRC MLAs in AP. He can’t be selective,” says Talasani Srinivas Yadav, a minister in TRS government who quit the TDP and joined the TRS. His case is pending before the Speaker.

Sometimes new arrivals could cause trouble. In the case of the recent admission of faction leaders of Rayalaseema in Andhra Pradesh, the net benefit accrued to the ruling TDP remained the same as one group left with a rival group joining the party. The faction politics in Rayalaseema is such that the entry of Bhuma Nagi Reddy group into the TDP has strained relations of Naidu with two other prominent Reddy groups in Kurnool.

“Politics in Kurnool, Anantapur and Kadapa is different. If one faction joins a political party, the other leaves that party and joins its rival whatever might be the ideology. Now, unmindfully Naidu has admitted two leaders from Kurnool and Kadapa, making it impossible to make the cadre at grassroots to work together. 

“Till yesterday, they were vying to cut each other’s throats,” observes Shilpa Mohan Reddy the Kurnool TDP leader who tried to stop Bhuma group joining the TDP.

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