The ruling TRS and opponent Congress leaders have started lobbying for tickets for five seats in the Legislative Council from the Assembly quota, for which elections are scheduled on March 12. Going by its present strength in the Assembly, the TRS can get four seats and the Congress one. The TRS is expected to renominate home minister Mohd Mahmood Ali and Wakf Board chairman Mohammad Saleem. In the Congress, Mr Ponguleti Sudhakar Reddy and Mr Shabbir Ali are trying for the seat.
It is up to the TRS to decide if it wants to try and get the fifth seat as well, which would necessitate an election.
Whether the election will be held, or all the five candidates will be elected unanimously, is in the hands of TRS president and Chief Minister K. Chandra-sekhar Rao. The TRS is short of five MLAs to win the fifth seat. If the TRS is able to get five Congress MLAs to support it, it will win the fifth seat too. But Congress leaders are very confident that their MLAs will not defect to the TRS.
Mr Mahmood Ali, Mr Mohammad Saleem and Mr Santosh Kumar from the TRS, and the Congress’s Mr Shabbir Ali and Mr Ponguleti Sudhakar Reddy, are all retiring on March 29, 2019.
Mr Ali and Mr Saleem will be renominated.
TRS sources say that the Chief Minister is also considering the names of combined Warangal district TRS president Takkallapalli Ravindar Rao, his personal assistant Seri Subhash Reddy, former minister Basavaraju Saraiah and former MLC Santosh Kumar.
Sources in the TRS said that Mr Rao has to decide whether to contest all five seats or only four seats, leaving one seat to the Congress. The final date for filling nominations is February 28. Once the Budget session of the Assembly ends on February 25, the final decision will be made.
There is speculation that after nominating four candidates, for the fifth seat Mr Rao may field MLC Santosh Kumar who joined the TRS from the Congress during the recent Assembly elections. The TRS needs five MLAs to win the fifth seat and can hope that Santosh Kumar will manage to get five Congress MLAs’ support to win.
The Congress’ Ponguleti Congress, Reddy and Shabbir Ali are retiring on March 29, 2019, and are trying to get MLC tickets. Both have good contacts in the party’s central leadership.
Pradesh Congress Committee sources said that the high command was looking for fresh candidates for the MLC ticket and is considering the names of TPCC protocol in-charge Venugopal and TPCC treasurer Gudur Narayana Reddy, among some others.