The Telangana Congress has a herculean task on its hands of winning back the trust of voters in the Lok Sabha polls after tasting a humiliating defeat in assembly elections. Making matters worse for Congress, the TRS has been successful in engineering defection of four Congress MLAs and one TDP legislator in recent times. It is not over yet, as a few more Congress MLAs are in touch with the TRS leadership and may jump the fence any time.

It appears as though the shadow of the Ides of March looms over the Congress in Telangana and the party is experiencing the full impact of it. Of the 17 LS constituencies, Congress does not have a single MLA in six constituencies — Adilabad, Nizamabad, Mahabubnagar, Karimnagar, Hyderabad and Secunderabad.

The situation is so bad that it can be gauged from the fact that senior leader and former MP Madhu Yashki Goud’s name is now being considered for Bhongir, since Nizamabad is seen as “not safe” from where he had won when YS Rajasekhara Reddy was the CM in the undivided state. K Kavitha represents the Nizamabad seat.

The Congress has just one MLA each in eight LS seats of Adilabad, Malkajgiri, Medak, Nagarkurnool, Peddapalli, Warangal, Zahirabad and Nalgonda. Adding to its woes, its MLA Atram Sakku from Asifabad in Adilabad LS constituency recently bade goodbye to the party and is set to join TRS.

Until recently, Congress boasted of having two MLAs each in Bhongir and Chevella, three in Khammam and four in Mahabubabad LS constituencies. But, unrelenting efforts of TRS to lure Congress MLAs have dealt a major blow on its poll prospects in Bhongir with Nakrekal MLA Chirumarthi Lingaiah announcing his decision to join TRS and Rega Kantha Rao from Pinapaka and B Haripriya Naik from Yellandu, under Mahabubabad LS seat, deciding to join the TRS.

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From Maheshwaram segment of Chevella LS seat, the name of former home minister Sabitha Indra Reddy is doing the rounds that she is just a step away from joining TRS. It is also being said that Sangareddy MLA T Jayaprakash Reddy from Medak LS seat may switch over to TRS.

With each passing day, the Congress house seems to be crumbling, with members deserting the party at regular intervals. The latest to join the long list of Congress leaders intending to shift to the TRS is Palair legislator Kandala Upender Reddy, who met TRS working president K T Rama Rao, and expressed his desire to join the ruling party. Once the formalities are gone through, the Congress strength in the State Assembly would drop from 19 in the 119-member House to 13.

With elections to Lok Sabha practically round the corner in the State, the Telangana Congress has found itself in the throes of a deep crisis that puts a question mark over its future. However, for an increasing number of Congress MLAs — six since March 2 — coming forward to swear allegiance to TRS, March appears to be their ideal time to be in step with TRS with their stated goal being comprehensive constituency development that can be achieved more effectively if they are with the TRS.

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The Congress MLAs also said their decisions followed discussions with their followers and their party leaders in their respective constituencies who endorsed the choice they were making. Incidentally, in a demonstration of their faith in themselves and in the TRS, all of them also said that they were willing to resign as MLAs and contest again as TRS candidates.

Though the Congress has repeatedly accused TRS of engineering defections, the party has made it clear, as did the Congress MLAs who want to join the ruling party, that it was the MLAs who chose to do so. Rama Rao had earlier said that if someone comes forward voluntarily to join TRS, his party cannot insist that they refrain from doing so.

For the record, Congress has already been shut out of the Legislative Council with the last two of its members in that House, Md Ali Shabbir and Ponguleti Sudhakar Reddy retiring this month as MLCs, not even being renominated for the just concluded March 12 MLC polls under the MLAs quota. Though the party fielded former MP Guduru Narayana Reddy as its candidate for the poll, at the last minute, it announced a poll boycott accusing the TRS of engineering defections in the Assembly.

In addition to its leaders beginning to leave it in droves, the Congress is also facing a rebellion of sorts against the State party leadership. It was just days ago that the Munogode MLA Komatireddy Rajgopal Reddy told reporters that Telangana Congress needs a new leadership and that it was time for the party high command in New Delhi to take some action if the party has to regain some ‘josh’.

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Even as the opposition party grapples with its internal problems, the steady stream of Congress MLAs leaving the party for the TRS that began on March 2, continued on Thursday with Upender Reddy becoming the sixth Congress MLA seeking to join TRS.

Before Upender Reddy, it was Congress MLAs Rega Kanta Rao (Pinapaka) and Atram Sakku (Asifabad) who set the ball rolling on March 2 announcing that they will join the TRS. Their announcements were followed by Banoth Haripriya Naik (Illendu), Chirumarthi Lingaiah (Nakrekal) and Sabitha Indra Reddy (Maheswaram) expressing readiness to quit Congress and join TRS. Upender Reddy is not expected to be last of the opposition party MLAs seeking to join TRS. A few more Congress MLAs are also expected to follow suit in the coming days.

The TRS, which had a strength of 88 in the Assembly, was joined by two independents soon after the elections boosting its strength to 90. Soon after Kanta Rao and Sakku said they were joining TRS, one of the two TDP MLAs, Sandra Venkata Veeraiah, also announced his intention to join the TRS. With the six Congress MLAs now set to join the ruling party along with Veeraiah, the TRS strength in the Assembly will rise to 97 in the House.#KhabarLive