Hyderabad: Fifteen legislators skipped the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting conducted on Wednesday to brief ruling party MLAs on how to vote in Thursday’s presidential polls. These included two MLAs said to harbour cross-party loyalty to Kadapa MP Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy -- Dwarampudi Chandrasekhara Reddy (Kakinada Urban) and Ch Adinarayana Reddy (Jammalamadugu), and two votaries of separate statehood for Telangana -- Komatireddy Venkat Reddy (Nalgonda) and R Damodar Reddy (Suryapet).
Tribal welfare minister Pasupuleti Bala Raju (Paderu), T Manemma (Musheerabad) and Madhusudan Gupta (Guntakal) did not attend the meeting as they are undergoing treatment for health problems. Manemma has been sick for several months. Gupta, who met with an accident during chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy’s road show in last month’s bypolls, is undergoing treatment at a hospital in Bangalore. And Bala Raju did not fully recover from a knee injury. Former minister Mopidevi Venkata Ramana Rao (Repalle) could not attend as he is behind bars.
Marri Sashidhar Reddy (Sanathnagar), Labbi Venkata Swami (Nandikotkur), P Shankar Rao (Secunderabad Cantonment), Anam Vivekananda Reddy (Nellore Rural) and Ponnada Satish Kumar (Mummidivaram) also did not attend the meeting. Sources in the CLP said they stayed away as the meeting was only a formality. They will definitely exercise their franchise on Thursday, sources said. Alla Nani (Eluru) and S Venkata Krishna Ranga Rao (Bobbili), who resigned their membership in support of Jagan Mohan Reddy, also stayed away, though PCC chief Botcha Satyanarayana appealed to them to vote for UPA candidate Pranab Mukherjee.
15 legislators skipped the Congress Legislature Party meeting on how to vote in the Presidential polls.
During the meeting, chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy, AICC secretary K B Krishna Murthy and Botcha Satyanarayana asked the legislators to vote for Mukherjee on Thursday. He chief minister expressed his displeasure over the absenteeism despite repeated requests from the party leadership. He asked all legislators to exercise their franchise without fail Thursday and vote for Mukherjee. Kiran Reddy pinned the responsibility for bringing all legislators to the polling booth on ministers who are in-charges of the districts concerned.
The Congress state leadership, which had been apprehensive about cross-voting till the day before, heaved a sigh of relief with the YSR Congress deciding to Mukherjee’s candidature. “Even though those MLAs who are close to Jagan did not turn up, we hope they too will vote for Pranab as per their party line,” said a Congress senior MLA.
No mock polling was conducted as the presidential poll has become a two-horse race. However, model ballot papers were distributed to the legislators. The chief minister asked them to put their first preferential vote against the name of Mukherjee, which is in the second place on the ballot. Kiran Reddy asked all legislators not to use their second preferential vote. He also asked them to exercise their franchise as early as possible after commencement of polling so as two avoid a last-minute rush.
The chief minister and PCC chief hosted lunch for all MLAs and MLCs after the briefing session was over.