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Setback for TRS as MPs resort to cross-voting
Suresh Dharur
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, March 18
At a time when Telangana statehood movement has reached its crescendo, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), spearheading the agitation, received a setback in Andhra Pradesh Legislative Council elections with three of its MLAs resorting to cross-voting in favour of the ruling Congress.

The desertion came as a rude jolt to TRS President K Chandrasekhar Rao who has withdrawn into a shell ever since the declaration of results late last night for 10 seats to the Council under MLAsí quota.

The poll outcome brought cheers to Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy who overcame the initial scare from rebel legislators loyal to YS Jagan Mohan Reddy and ensured victory for all the seven candidates-five from the ruling Congress and one each from its allies Majlis-e- Ittehadul Muslimeen and actor-turned-politician Chiranjeeviís Praja Rajyam Party.

Contrary to the expectations that Jagan camp might upset the ruling partyís apple cart by heavy cross-voting, the final results proved that the ruling party managed to contain the damage and ensure that rebel factor did not affect the winning chances of the official nominees.

In the end, it emerged that 10 pro-Jagan Congress legislators defied the partyís directive and voted in favour of MIM candidate Mohammad Ali Rizvi in stead of Congress nominee Mohammad Jani for whom their votes were allotted in the preferential voting system.

By casting their votes in favour of MIM, the Jagan camp has sent out a message that it was opposed to the Congress. But, at the same time the strategy was to escape disciplinary action by voting for an ally of Congress.

Kiran, for whom the MLC polls posed the first political test, had the last laugh. However, he still faces hurdles ahead with MLC elections under local bodiesí quota scheduled for March 21 and the by-elections to Kadapa Lok Sabha constituency and Pulivendula Assembly seat in May, which fell vacant after Jagan and his mother quit their seats, respectively.

The outcome of the MLC polls showed that the ruling party had over-estimated Jaganís strength in carrying out his threat of destabilising the government. While 26 MLAs, including 22 from Congress and two each from TDP and PRP, attended a meeting convened by Jagan to chalk out his groupís polling strategy, the results show that only a few of them followed his directive.

Bruised and battered, the TRS went into a state of shock over cross-voting from its ranks. Despite having strength of 11 members in the Assembly, as against 27 required to win an MLC seat, the TRS had fielded its candidate in the hope of attracting votes of Telangana legislators cutting across party lines. A strong undercurrent of Telangana sentiment was the basis of its confidence. However, its gambit has failed. What has added insult to the injury was the desertion by its own MLAs.

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