The misery of the Congress spread from Rajasthan and Punjab all the way to Telangana in the south, where 12 of its 18 state legislators have joined Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao's party, the TRS.
State leaders of the Congress - the handful that are keen to remain with it - said that the Chief Minister a.k.a. KCR, is "buying" Congress lawmakers.
But the Congress rebels said they're inspired by nothing more than KCR's vision. "All the 12 members support the leadership of Chief Minister KCR and requested to work with him. We gave a representation to the Speaker and urged him to merge us with the TRS party," said Gandra Venkata Ramana Reddy.
The Congress has been lurching from one crisis to another since its disastrous performance in the general election which saw it collating just 52 seats across the country. The cause of at least part of that epic fail - infighting - has exponentially increased in states like Punjab and Rajasthan.
In Telangana, however, the party won three of 17 Lok Sabha seats, which was seen as a "revival" of its fortunes in the southern state given that just months ago, it fared abysmally in the state election which KCR won easily.
Months later in the general election, though, KCR was not spared the Modi Tide which came in across India. His daughter lost her Nizamabad constituency to a BJP candidate and their party, the TRS, won just nine of 17 seats with the BJP scooping up four in a state where it was seen as a bit player.
The Congress says a bruised KCR is trying to shore up by poaching its people. But the Speaker of the assembly, Pocharam Srinivas Reddy, said on Thursday that the dozen rebels are considered merged with KCR's party now and will be seated along with his legislators. Further, because they form a group so large (two-third of the party's current strength), they circumvent being disqualified under anti-defection laws.
The Speaker isn't playing fair, according to the chief of the Congress. "We are looking for him since morning. His office says he is unavailable. He has no time to meet us," complained Uttam Kumar Reddy, who spent hours on a dharna or sit-in at the Telangana assembly premises.
"At this rate, KCR might as well shift the legislature to his farm house. The sanctity of the assembly and the dignity of the Speaker's office has been destroyed," he continued.
The TRS has maintained that it needs no back-up given its vast strength in the state legislature. "They want to join us because they believe in KCR's leadership. Besides, if 2/3rds are willing to come, it is allowed under the law and the Congress has to think about why its MLAs are deserting the sinking ship," a senior leader said.
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