A number of MLAs from the Bharat Rashtra Samiti (BRS) recently met Telangana Chief Minister Revanth Reddy. While they have called it courtesy visits and said that they discussed issues regarding their constituencies, speculation is rife that they are likely to join the Congress.
It also comes days after senior Congress leader and Roads and Buildings Minister, Komatireddy Venkat Reddy, said that 30 BRS MLAs were in touch with his party.
The MLAs who met Chief Minister Reddy were G Mahipal Reddy (Patancheru), Manik Rao (Zaheerabad), Sunita Lakshma Reddy (Narsapur), K Prabhakar Reddy (Dubbak) and Prakash Goud (Rajendranagar).
Except for Rajendranagar, all other constituencies fall under the Medak district and thus it is also being seen as a message to former chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR), who is likely to contest from Medak in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. He was previously elected from the constituency in 2014.
Medak is considered a BRS stronghold and it would be a significant achievement for the Congress if it wins the seat.
Goud, like Chief Minister Reddy, was in the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) earlier. While Reddy switched to the Congress, Goud had joined the BRS, then known as the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS).
Prabhakar Reddy, who was elected as the MP from Medak in 2019, is said to be keen on contesting from the seat again.
Such a switch after elections inspite of the ruling party having a majority is not unprecedented in Telangana. In 2019, the BRS (then known as the TRS), inducted 12 of the 18 Congress MLAs, even though it had 88 MLAs in an assembly having a strength of 119.
The Congress at present has 64 MLAs, which is just a little above the halfway mark.
The other benefit for the Congress is that all of these MLAs are from areas near the Hyderabad region, where the party did not perform well in the 2023 assembly elections and the BRS remains strong. The Congress did not win a single constituency within the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) limits.
Of the 24 seats under the GHMC area, the BRS won 16. The All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) won 7 and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won 1.
Their induction could also help the party in elections to urban local bodies, like the GHMC, where the party won just 2 seats in the 2020 elections.
The BRS MLAs also do not have much to lose. Even if they are disqualified under the anti-defection law, by-elections are likely to be held soon, ie, along with the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, and the Congress could perform better in these areas, given it is in power in the state.
There is also talk that the Congress would like the defections to happen after the Lok Sabha elections so that it does not give the BRS an opportunity to accuse it of poaching its MLAs.
Irrespective of the timing, if the switch does happen, it would be seen as the Congress paying back the BRS in its own coin.
S Rajesh is Staff Writer at Swarajya.
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