Chandrababu Naidu’s TDP loses 4 Rajya Sabha MPs. It’s a big gain for the BJP
In a setback for Chandrababu Naidu’s TDP, four of the party’s six MPs in Rajya Sabha passed a resolution to merge the TDP with the BJP.
Less than a month after facing a humiliating defeat in the Andhra Pradesh assembly elections, Chandrababu Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party plunged into a major crisis on Thursday with four of its six Rajya Sabha members resigning from the party and joining the Bharatiya Janata Party.
The four MPs — Y S Chowdary alias Sujana Chowdary, T G Venkatesh, C M Ramesh and Garikapati Mohan Rao — met Rajya Sabha chairman M Venkaiah Naidu and submitted a letter requesting that they be recognized as a separate group in the Upper House and be allowed to merge with the BJP.
The four MPs had earlier in the day had a brief meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president and home minister Amit Shah and formally expressed their desire to join the party. Later, they also held deliberations with BJP working president J P Nadda, a TDP leader familiar with the development said.
While Chowdary, Venkatesh and Ramesh represent Andhra Pradesh, Mohan Rao is from Telangana. With the defection of four MPs, the TDP is left with only two MPs in Rajya Sabha – Kanakamedla Ravindra Kumar and Thota Seetharama Lakshmi.
The development comes as a rude shock to TDP president and former Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu, who is away in Europe on a vacation with his family. He is scheduled to return to Amaravati on June 26.
Venkatesh told reporters that the four MPs had taken the decision only after witnessing the people’s mandate for the BJP. “As far as I am concerned, I am joining the BJP for the development of Rayalaseema region. “I had been an active worker in ABVP during my college days and so, I am not new to BJP. I feel very comfortable in the party,” he said.
He denied the allegations that the MPs had ditched the TDP at a time when the party president was away in Europe. “We met Naidu a week ago and explained our situation. He requested us not to desert the TDP in this hour of crisis, but we told him we have our own compulsions,” he said.
“We have quit the TDP. We shall soon to join the BJP in the presence of Amit Shah,” was the crisp comment made by Chowdary, as he came out of the Vice-President’s office.
Chowdary, who was the minister of state for science and technology in the Narendra Modi government in the previous term till he was forced to quit after TDP walked out of the NDA in April 2018, has been dropping enough hints in the last few days that he would defect to the BJP.
In an interview to a Telugu news channel recently, the former Union minister found fault with Naidu walking out of the NDA and taking a U-turn on the special category status to Andhra Pradesh.
On the other hand, another MP Ramesh was also found closely moving with the BJP leaders in Rajya Sabha during the ongoing parliament sessions.
Interestingly, all the four TDP MPs who are joining the BJP are industrialists. Chowdary has promoted Sujana Group of Industries which is into steel, power and telecom sectors, while Ramesh owns Ritwik Group, a major infrastructure company.
Venkatesh has been the promoter of Sree Rayalaseema Alkalis and Allied Chemicals and Mohan Rao owned AP Rayons Factory in Warangal.
Both Chowdary and Ramesh had been facing charges of financial irregularities in their respective group companies. In the last few months, there had been series of raids by CBI, Income Tax department and Enforcement Directorate on these companies.
Soon after coming to know about the developments, Chandrababu Naidu is reported to have spoken to party president of Andhra unit Kala Venkat Rao and asked him to see that the party cadre did not get disheartened. “Naidu stoutly condemned the BJP leadership for luring the TDP MPs. Such crisis situations are not new to TDP. He asked the party leaders and cadre not to worry,” Rao told reporters in Amaravati.
Political analyst and author Sriram Karri said the loss of four Rajya Sabha MPs would leave the TDP in doldrums. “The trouble in the TDP had begun since Naidu ignored the advice of leaders like Chowdary not to quit the NDA or reject special package,” he said.
Karri said it was time Naidu resigned as party chief and hand over the reins to a non-Kamma leader. “Otherwise, the TDP is in its final phases of political relevance and existence,” he said.