The 12 Congress MLAs in Telangana who recently joined the ruling TRS, Wednesday hit back at the opposition party's state leadership for its attack on them, saying their action was in accordance with the Constitutional provisions.
The Congress has alleged that they have been lured into joining the TRS, and has approached the High Court challenging their "merger" with the TRS Legislature Party.
MLA Gandra Venkata Ramana Reddy, flanked by other Congress MLAs who joined TRS, said they joined the ruling party as per provisions of the Constitution.
"We, 12 MLAs, met Speaker on 6th of this month. It is clearly said in X Schedule of Constitution that if 2/3rd of MLAs wish, they can merge. Accordingly, we met the Speaker on 6th (of June) and gave a letter," he told reporters.
"We requested the Chief Minister to admit us into TRS Legislature Party. As per that letter, Speaker allowed us to be admitted, for merger," he said. They did not join TRS till June 6, he said.
He dismissed Congress leaders' allegations that they have been lured into joining the TRS.
"Congress party leaders' comments are surprising. (They say MLAs) joined after being offered inducements, purchased or out of fear. We are not kids to be made to fear. We are not the ones to fall for inducements. We are not sheep or buffaloes to be purchased," Reddy said.
The decision was taken in the interest of development of their constituencies and people's welfare, he said. The allegations of Congress are baseless, he added.
Reddy said they would reply to the notices issued by the courts on the matter.
The 12 MLAs would not hesitate to file a defamation suit for allegedly indulging in their character assassination, he said.
The Congress should introspect why it is failing in elections that took place since TRS came to power in 2014, whether it is elections to Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC), Assembly polls in December last year, Lok Sabha polls or the recent rural local body polls, he claimed.
He queried why several other Congress leaders quit the party and joined the BJP or other parties.
The reasons for defeat cannot be blamed on EVMs as ballot papers were used in local body polls, he said.
Referring to criticism made by BJP leaders against them, Reddy said Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during the recent Lok Sabha campaign in West Bengal, said 40 TMC MLAs are in touch with BJP.
Two MLAs of Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party merged with BJP in the aftermath of death of Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar in Goa, he said.
"BJP people here are also saying something. See (what happened) in Goa, Bengal, Tripura. So, there cannot be one rule for you and another one for us. I am reminding what the Prime Minister of India spoke during the recent polls. We took our decision as per Constitution," Reddy said.
Replying to a query, he said their resignations are not necessary as merger was done as per Constitutional principles but they would think about the matter if necessary.
Telangana Assembly Speaker P Srinivas Reddy last Thursday recognised the 12 MLAs of Congress as members of TRS, hours after they moved him, seeking merger of their group with the ruling party.
The Speaker acceded to their request, considering the fact that they constituted two-thirds of the Congress Legislature Party, a requirement for merger under the anti-defection law.
Countering the MLAs' attack on the Congress, AICC secretary Ch Vamsichand Reddy said the MLAs should quit their posts and seek fresh mandate if they have any sincerity and morals.
Referring to the comments of MLAs that Congress has lost successive elections, he said victory and defeat were natural in politics.
The Chief Minister's daughter (sitting TRS MP K Kavitha) lost in recent Lok Sabha elections (in Nizamabad), he said.
There was a time when the TRS chose not to contest Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) elections (for fear of losing), he said.