Meet the contenders as Telangana Congress looks to win two MLC seats under MLA quota with ECI deciding on separate elections

The ECI has set the stage for two separate by-elections on 29 January to fill the vacancies left by BRS MLCs Kadiyam Srihari and Padi Kaushik Reddy.

ByRaj Rayasam

Published Jan 08, 2024 | 9:24 PMUpdatedJan 08, 2024 | 9:24 PM

These directives originated from the Election Commission of India (ECI) on 1 February. (Wikimedia Commons)

The Congress in Telangana is riding a wave of luck. Fresh off their triumph in the recent Assembly elections, the party is now eyeing two Legislative Council berths under the MLA quota.

The Election Commission of India (ECI), on Sunday, 7 January, set the stage for two separate by-elections on 29 January to fill the Council seats vacated by BRS MLCs Kadiyam Srihari and Padi Kaushik Reddy after winning the state Assembly elections in November last year.

The ECI had earlier unveiled the election schedule on 4 January, with notifications set to be issued on 11 January.

MLC elections under MLA quota

The MLC elections under the MLA quota employ a preferential system. Voters must rank their top three candidates and the votes are tallied in rounds. The candidate with the lowest first-preference votes is eliminated in each round, and their votes are transferred to the next preference.

This process repeats until a candidate reaches the quota, calculated by dividing the total number of valid votes by two and adding one. In the Telangana Assembly, with 119 valid votes, the quota stands at 61 votes.

Initially, assuming a single election for both seats, the Congress anticipated winning one seat with its 64 seats and an additional one from its ally, CPI. For the second seat, the BRS seemed poised with 39 members and support from ally AIMIM, holding seven seats. With strategic planning, the BRS could clinch the second seat.

In anticipation of a single election, BRS party leaders mulled over potential candidates for the second seat, including Dasoju Sravan, Kurra Satyanarayana, Muthireddy Yadagiri Reddy, T Rajaiah, and Chilumula Madan Reddy. Other considerations included Ponnala Lakshmaiah and Ravula Chandrasekhar Reddy, who switched allegiance to the pink party from the Congress and the TDP, respectively.

However, the recent clarification from the ECI shattered the BRS’s hope of a single election, leaving them with the daunting task of separately contesting both seats. However, it also brought some relief to the BRS, easing the aftermath of its defeat in the Assembly elections.

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Possible candidates

With separate elections for the two seats, all 119 Assembly members will cast two votes, each receiving two ballot papers for two separate ballot boxes. This development favours the Congress, as securing first-preference votes alone would suffice to secure a majority for both seats in the council.

The Congress boasts numerous contenders for the two MLC berths. Given the absence of Muslim MLAs in the Assembly, former minister Mohammed Ali Shabbir is a prime consideration. With the Lok Sabha elections on the horizon, the Congress is keen on not being perceived as hostile to minorities, prompting the consideration of Shabbir Ali.

Additionally, former Indian cricket captain Mohammad Azharuddin, who lost in Jubilee Hills, and Feroz Khan, who narrowly lost in Nampally, are also under consideration.

For the other seat under the MLA quota, hopefuls include TPCC working president T Jayaprakash Reddy alias Jagga Reddy, and SA Sampath Kumar, who lost the Assembly elections from Sangareddy and Nagarkurnool, respectively.

The Congress is contemplating accommodating Telangana Jana Samithi president Prof M Kodandaram and poet Ande Sri in the Council under the Governor’s quota.

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