Ahead of the Legislative Council elections in Telangana, the ruling TRS and the Congress were engaged in a bitter war of words today over two opposition party leaders deciding to join the TRS.
A day after the Congress announced that it would wage a full-scale Constitutional battle against Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, accusing him of "engineering" the defection of two party legislators, TRS working president K T Rama Rao hit back, asking whether the instances of other public representatives joining the Congress was also a "purchase".
TRS working president K T Rama Rao, who responded to the Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) president N Uttam Kumar Reddy's allegation that the TRS has "purchased" two of its leaders, referred to various instances of lawmakers joining the Congress.
Two Congress legislators — Rega Kantha Rao (Pinapaka) and Atram Sakku (Asifabad) — announced on Saturday night they had decided to join the ruling TRS in the interest of welfare and development of scheduled tribes, especially Adivasis.
Mr Rama Rao referred to media reports of a sitting BJP leader in Uttar Pradesh joining the Congress in the presence of its president Rahul Gandhi and General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Sunday.
He also cited instances in the past when legislators and other public representatives joined the Congress. Mr Rama Rao referred to the reported comments of a Congress leader that the party's leadership "lacked effectiveness".
"I had said...we already have the number of MLAs to win all the five in the Legislative Council election. We automatically have the win with second preference (voting). We don't have to invite anyone afresh for this election," he said.
The switch-over of the two Congress leaders to the TRS is seen as a setback to the Congress for the March 12 Legislative Council elections (MLAs quota).
In the election to fill five vacancies in the Council, the TRS has fielded four candidates, leaving one seat to its ally MIM. The strength of the TRS in the assembly is 88 and two other MLAs (an independent and MLA of AIFB) have also announced support to the ruling party.
The two Congress leaders, Rega Kantha Rao and Atram Sakku who announced their decision to quit the party, hit out at the Congress for alleging that they were "purchased" to join the TRS.