Hyderabad: In another jolt to the Congress in Telangana, one of its legislators Saturday announced that he was joining the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS).
Chirumarthi Lingaiah, who was elected from Nakrekal in December 7 polls, said he was switching loyalties for the development of his constituency. He also said if necessary, he would resign from the Assembly to contest again.
The party received the setback on a day when its President Rahul Gandhi addressed a public meeting here to launch the party's campaign in Telangana for the coming Lok Sabha elections.
Lingaiah had a secret meeting with Chief Minister and TRS President K. Chandrashekhar Rao on Friday where he expressed his desire to join the TRS and Rao gave his nod.
He is the third Congress MLA to defect to the TRS in a week. Rega Kantha Rao and Atram Sakku, both tribal MLAs, had joined the TRS on March 2.
The defections drew strong protest from the Congress, which alleged that the ruling party was engineering defections and termed it as a threat to democracy.
With Lingaiah's defection the strength of the Congress in 119-member Assembly has come down to 16, dealing further blow to its hopes of winning at least one seat in the Legislative Council.
Elections to six seats of the Council from the MLA quota are scheduled on March 22. The Congress needs at least 21 MLAs to win a seat.
The TRS had bagged 88 seats in the Assembly elections held in December. Congress had secured 19 seats.
One of the two MLAs of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) also crossed over to TRS on March 3.