Andhra Pradesh: Ruling TDP’s whip becomes first MLA to join opposition YSRCP
The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in Andhra Pradesh suffered a jolt on Tuesday, when its whip and lone MLA from Kadapa district Meda Mallikarjuna Reddy joined the YSR Congress Party, becoming the first legislator to cross over from the ruling party to the opposition.
A few hours before Mallikarjun Reddy met Jagan at the latter’s Lotus Pond residence in Hyderabad, senior leader of YSR Congress Botsa Satyanarayana confirmed his joining at a press conference.
TDP swiftly suspended the Rajampet MLA on the charge of indulging in anti-party activities by ‘hobnobbing’ with the rival YSR Congress leaders, pre-empting his resignation from the party.
Of the 10 assembly seats in Kadapa, Mallikarjun Reddy was the lone winner from TDP in the 2014 polls. Jagan’s party had won all the remaining nine seats.
TDP chief and Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu made last-ditch efforts to prevent his defection by holding a conciliatory meeting with Mallikarjun Reddy at his Undavelli residence in Amaravati on Tuesday. But the MLA tactfully skipped the meeting, saying he was not aware of it.
The TDP leadership was suspicious of his loyalties for quite some time even as he was reportedly under pressure from his family and followers to shift to YSRC.
Mallikarjun Reddy, a civil contractor, had switched to the TDP from the Congress in 2014.
Reddy apparently had doubts that he would not be re-nominated as the TDP candidate from Rajampet in the coming elections as he was branded as Jagan’s proxy by his rival group within the TDP.
TDP Rajya Sabha member C M Ramesh maintained that Mallikarjun’s exit would not be a loss to their party.
Badly in need of a leader to storm the YSRCP bastion, Naidu has taken in C Adinarayana Reddy, representing Jammalamadugu, on defection from the YSR Congress, and made him a marketing minister in his cabinet.
Mallikarjun Reddy is the first MLA to cross over to the YSRC from the TDP so far. Three former lawmakers from the ruling party changed loyalties in the recent past.
“Many more to join our party from TDP as the ruling party’s MLAs are not confident of their re-election in the wake of their leader Naidu suffering a credibility crisis”, Botsa said.
Chandrababu Naidu has been accused of engineering the defection of 23 lawmakers from the YSR Congress, anointing four of them as ministers soon after the 2014 polls.
In Rayalaseema, with 52 Assembly segments spread over four districts of Kadapa, Chittoor, Kurnool and Ananthapur, the TDP continues to be on a sticky wicket in the entire region, barring Ananthapur, for want of a strong leadership.
In 2014, it secured only 12 seats as compared the YSRC’s 40 seats in Rayalaseema. The situation is no different in chief minister Naidu’s home district of Chittoor where the TDP got six seats while YSRC secured eight in the last election.
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