Question notices served on them saying they had not received the whip

Three rebel Telugu Desam (TDP) MLAs on Monday looked determined to challenge the disqualification petitions filed against them by the parent party and take recourse to legal battle.

On the second day of the hearing on the disqualification petitions filed by the Congress and the TDP, rebel MLAs – K. Harishwar Reddy, S. Venugopala Chary and Chinnam Ramakotaiah — personally appeared before Speaker Nadendla Manohar in his chambers. The first two MLAs are with the TRS while Mr. Ramakotaiah is said to be toying with the idea of aligning with the Congress.

At the end of the two-day hearing, all indications suggest that it may take some more time before the Speaker disposes of the petitions.

Going by the mood of the three TDP MLAs, it could be a prolonged battle between the rebels and their parent parties.

Accompanied by their lawyers, the three legislators questioned the notices and sought to know how disciplinary action could be initiated against them as they had not received the whips purported to have been sent by the Telugu Desam Legislature Party (TDLP) Whip Dhulipala Narendra. The Speaker posted the hearing for May 18 to allow the MLAs to put forward their argument.

Six other TDP MLAs – P. Sairaj, T. Vanitha, Kodali Venkateswara Rao alias Nani, N. Amarnath Reddy, Praveen Kumar Reddy and Y. Balanagi Reddy, who switched their loyalties to the YSR Congress, abstained from the hearing. Instead, they faxed their replies urging the Speaker to disqualify them without any delay.

Sources said the three MLAs, who deposed before the Speaker, appeared to fight their case and in turn prolong a decision on the disqualification petition. It is believed that Mr. Chinna Ramakotaiah, in his reply to the notice served on him by the Speaker’s office, made a scathing attack on the TDP leadership.

He is said to have questioned the very basis of issuing a Whip for the no-confidence motion a day ahead of the no-trust motion. Mr. Ramakotaiah sought to know how the TDP leadership knew that the Assembly would take up no-confidence motion on March 15 and accordingly issued whip to its legislators on March 14 itself. He reportedly maintained that it was only after the Business Advisory Committee meeting on March 15 that the no-trust motion was taken up.

Sources pointed out that Mr. Venkateswara Rao also faxed a letter seeking time to present his case. Accordingly, the Speaker’s office asked him to come on May 18 and depose before the Speaker.