Hours after 12 out of its 18 MLAs in Telangana met the Assembly Speaker requesting a merger with the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS), the Congress on Thursday described the development as a "daylight murder of democracy".
Addressing a press conference at the party headquarters here, Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera said: "The way the people's mandate and democratic norms are being butchered, it's a daylight murder of democracy."
"Just because somebody is in power, has access to resources and can control agencies does not mean he can misuse his power," Khera said.
"These Congress MLAs were elected after the voters rejected the TRS. This is the murder of people's mandate. India may ignore it today, but it will never forget disrespect of mandate," he said.
Under the Anti-Defection Act, defectors need a two-third majority to seek merger with any party. Of the total 19 Congress MLAs in the Telangana Assembly, 12 have shifted loyalty to the ruling TRS.
The development came a day after Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) chief N. Uttam Kumar Reddy resigned from the Assembly after he was elected to the Lok Sabha from Nalgonda in the recent elections.
This brought down Congress' strength to 18 and the defectors required 12 MLAs to seek Congress Legislature Party's (CLP) merger with the TRS.
Earlier the CLP in the state Legislative Council merged with the TRS in a similar manner. If this happens in the Assembly too, the Congress will lose the status of state's main Opposition party.
A party needs one-tenth of the strength of a House to have the main opposition status.
The TRS won 88 out of the 119 seats in last year's Assembly elections. After the polls, two independents and one of the two Telugu Desam Party (TDP) MLAs switched to TRS. If 12 Congress MLAs further join the TRS, the strength of the ruling party in the Telangana Assembly would go up to 103, bringing down the Congress' tally to six.
In such a scenario, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) will get the status of the main opposition. AIMIM, an ally of TRS, has seven MLAs in the Assembly.