Cong cracks whip against its rebel MLAs in AP

After months of dilly-dallying, the Congress on Monday finally cracked the whip against its rebel MLAs in Andhra Pradesh.

Last Updated: Dec 13, 2011, 00:10 AM IST

Hyderabad: After months of dilly-dallying,
the Congress on Monday finally cracked the whip against its rebel
MLAs in Andhra Pradesh.

Government whip Kondru Murali Mohan submitted a petition
to Assembly Speaker Nadendla Manohar on Monday night seeking
disqualification of 16 Congress MLAs who defied the party whip
and voted against the Kiran Kumar Reddy government during the
no-confidence motion tabled by TDP in the state Assembly on
Monday last.

This is the first time in the state`s political history
that a ruling party is seeking disqualification of its own
MLAs under the Anti-Defection Law.

The MLAs had been sailing with YSR Congress president and
Kadapa MP Y S Jaganmohan Reddy for over a year now.

Incidentally, the Congress "condoned" another MLA
Putalapattu Ravi who abstained from voting on the no-
confidence motion in violation of the whip.

Ravi, who hails from the Chief Minister`s native Chittoor
district, met the PCC leaders and explained the reasons for
his abstention at the time of voting in the House. Satisfied
with his version, the Congress decided to "condone" Ravi, who
once displayed his loyalty to Jagan.

Ravi`s case was intimated to the Speaker by the whip.
On the other hand, the Praja Rajyam Party that merged
with the Congress had already petitioned the Speaker seeking
disqualification of its MLA Sobha Nagi Reddy who too violated
the whip and voted against the government. Sobha is related to
Jagan and has been sailing with him along with her husband
Bhuma Nagi Reddy.

The Congress was initially in a dilemma over axing the 16
rebel MLAs fearing by-elections even as Jagan openly threw a
challenge at the ruling party to act against his loyalists.

However, Chief Minister Reddy was firm on acting against
the MLAs and took up the issue with party supremo Sonia Gandhi
during a meeting on December 10. She immediately gave her nod
for the action but the local leadership took two days to
complete necessary formalities.

The government whip held detailed talks with the chief
minister this afternoon on the issue and also met the Speaker
in the afternoon. The petition was finally prepared on Monday night
and submitted to the Speaker.

The 16 MLAs, along with 12 others, submitted their
resignation to the Congress as well as the Assembly membership
in August protesting the inclusion of late chief minister Y S
Rajasekhara Reddy`s name in the CBI FIR in the case against
Jagan.

However, 12 MLAs retracted and requested the Speaker not
to accept their resignations even as the Congress did not
spare any effort to attract them back into the party fold.

In the final count, only 16 MLAs stayed put in the Jagan
camp and voted against the government during the no-confidence
motion.

The MLAs against whom the Congress sought
disqualification were: Balineni Srinivasa Reddy, Pilli Subhash
Chandra Bose, Konda Surekha (all former ministers), Mekapati
Chandrasekhar Reddy (brother of Nellore MP Rajamohan Reddy),
Dharmana Krishna Das (brother of state R&B Minister Dharmana
Prasada Rao), M Sucharita, Amarnatha Reddy, T Balaraju, G Babu
Rao, G Srikanth Reddy, Kapu Ramachandra Reddy, Srinivasulu,
Prasada Raju, Gurunath Reddy, Chennakesava Reddy and P
Ramakrishna Reddy.

Only Konda Surekha hails from Telangana region while the
others belong to Andhra and Rayalaseema regions.

As per procedure, the Speaker has to issue notices to the
MLAs against whom the petition was filed and seek their
version before taking a final decision. The PRP MLA was given
time till December 19 to present her case. It is expected that
the Congress rebels too will get enough time to present their
case.

By-elections become inevitable to the 17 seats if all
these rebel MLAs are disqualified as per the Schedule 10 2 (1)
(b) of the Constitution, Legislature sources say.

Already, seven seats are vacant in the 294-member AP
Assembly and in the event of disqualification of 17 MLAs the
number of vacancies will rise to 24.

PTI