Six BRS MLCs deliver midnight sucker punch to party, join Congress in Telangana

Dande Vittal, Baswaraju Saraiah, Bhanu Prasad, MS Prabhakar, Yegge Mallesham, and Buggarapu Dayanand joined Congress after CM A Revanth Reddy's return from Delhi.

ByRaj Rayasam

Published Jul 05, 2024 | 10:16 AM Updated Jul 05, 2024 | 10:16 AM

The MLCs met in a Hyderabad hotel before riding to Revanth Reddy's house and joining to the Congress. (Supplied)

In what is being seen as a rude jolt to the Opposition BRS, six of its MLCs joined the Congress at about 1 am on Friday, 5 June, when the entire world had slipped into a deep sleep.

All six MLCs went to Chief Minister A Revanth Reddy’s residence together immediately after the latter’s return from Delhi. The chief minister invited them to the party fold, giving the BRS a taste its own pill.

For the BRS, the latest defection is the single grievous blow it has received after its defeat to Congress at the Assembly elections in December 2023.

The MLCs who joined the grand old party were: Dande Vittal, Baswaraju Saraiah, Bhanu Prasad, MS Prabhakar, Yegge Mallesham, and Buggarapu Dayanand.

The Congress managed to maintain utmost secrecy till the six legislators switched sides.

Related: BRS leader K Keshava Rao returns to Congress fold

Defections rock BRS

All of them first met at a hotel in Hyderabad and later reached Revanth’s residence around 12 midnight. As soon as Revanth returned home from Delhi an hour later, he admitted them into the party fold, draping them with the Congress’s tricolour shawls.

Party senior leaders – AICC Telangana in-charge Deepa Dasmunsi, Revenue Minister Ponguleti Srinivasa Reddy, Advisor to the chief minister Vem Narender Reddy, and Khairtabad DCC president Rohin Reddy — were present.

After the six MLCs changed horses midstream, the number of Congress MLCs has gone up. The Congress has B Mahesh Kumar Goud, Balmoori Venkat, Theenmar Mallanna, and T Jeevan Reddy as MLCs. Earlier, BRS MLCs Patnam Mahender Reddy and Kuchukulla Damodar Reddy, had joined the Congress.

Ever since the party’s debacle in the Assembly elections in 2023, the BRS has been suffering body blows as its legislators kept shifting to the Congress.

On Wednesday, BRS former secretary general K Keshava Rao formally joined the Congress after resigning from the Rajya Sabha. His daughter and Hyderabad Mayor Gadwal Vijayalakshmi is already in the Congress.

As far as the BRS MLAs are concerned, six of the 38 legislators have already joined the grand old party. They are: Kadiaym Srihari (Station Ghanpur), Tellam Venkata Rao (Bhadrachalam), Pocharam Srinvas Reddy (Banswada), Dammam Nagender (Khairabad) and Kale Yadaiah (Chevella). Telangana Legislative Council chairman Gutta Sukhender Reddy’s son Amit Reddy also joined the Congress.

After the defection of the BRS MLAs into the Congress, its strength in the Assembly has gone up to 71 from its original strength of 65.

Also Read: KCR puts on a brave front; says defections don’t matter

Pre-emptive move

The Congress has been engineering defections from the BRS in a pre-emptive strike on the BJP to prevent it from spiriting them away as the saffron party has bigger plans for Telangana. It has been trying to emerge as the alternative to the Congress, edging out the BRS.

The BJP has set for itself the target of capturing power in the next Assembly elections, after five years and towards this end, it has been trying to improve its footprint in Telangana.

Though the Congress at the national level had said it was against defections, it seems to have given an exception to the rule in Telangana.

Recently Revanth, at a media conference, asked whether he should keep quiet even when the opposition BRS is contemplating to topple his government. He cited as proof, the professions of the BSR leaders that the Revanth government would fall like nine pins sooner than later, implying that it was planning to engineer defections from the Congress into the BRS.

The BRS is yet to react to the Congress’s midnight blow. It is already crying foul over the previous defections and questioning the credentials of the Congress in poaching its MLAs after claiming that it was against defections.

It has moved disqualification petition in the High Court against three of of the MLAs and is preparing to move similar petitions against the remaining defectors.

(Edited by Majnu Babu)

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