Within a day of Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief N Chandrabadu Naidu heading to Europe with his family, four of his six Rajya Sabha MPs quit and joined the BJP, pushingthe party into a crisis.
The TDP, which suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of the YSR Congress and ended up with just three Lok Sabha MPs out of 25 and 23 MLAs out of 175, “will see more trouble ahead as the crisis that is brewing may blow up bigger before Naidu returns,” claimed BJP leaders in Andhra Pradesh.
The four MPs — Y Sujana Chowdhury, TG Venkatesh, CM Ramesh and Garikapati Rammohan Rao (all industrialists) — joined the BJP on Thursday . Except Rammohan Rao, the other three were present in the maiden media conference in New Delhi of BJP working President JP Nadda, for whom the development would be a victory in a way in the party’s expansion in South.
The TDP has a total of six MPs in the Upper House of Parliament. In addition to the four who quit and submitted a lettter to the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha and Vice-president, M Venkaiah Naidu to merge them with the BJP. The two others are Thota Sitaramalaxmi and K Ravindra Kumar.
Both Chowdhury and TG Venkatesh claimed in separate media briefings that they had taken this extreme step in the interest of the people of Andhra Pradesh . The development of the State is possible only with good relations with the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The recent elections also clearly gave the mandate to Modi and hence they felt it was better to join the ruling party at the Centre to serve the people of Andhra Pradesh better.
The indications of the crisis building up in TDP was evident from the time Kesineni Nani, TDP’s Lok Sabha Member from Vijayawada, went into a sulking mode and expressed his displeasure with the party performance, raising rumours of his quitting TDP. With Naidu intervening, it appeared that the trouble was contained.
However, after the conclusion of the maiden Assembly session under the Chief Ministership of YS Jaganmohan Reddy on Tuesday, wherein the CM openly claimed that many legislators and MPs from TDP were in touch with him , it was clear that troubles will plague the opposition party and Naidu. The four Rajya Sabha MPs striking a blow just a day after Naidu took off Europe came as a surprise though.
A section of the TDP tried to put up a brave front claiming that Naidu was in touch with the leaders and cadres and assured that they would tide over the crisis. The party is not knew to such problems and the efforts of the BJP to weaken it will not succeed, TDP leaders argued.
In the Lok Sabha, TDP has three members-- Kesineni Nani (transporter) , Galla Jayadev (industrialist) and K Rammohan Naidu, the son of former Union Minister Yerram Naidu.
On its strong hometurf, With TDP getting reduced to its all-time low on its home turf numbers in the recent elections, and BJP being aggressing the situation is fast deteriorating with an aggressive BJP. BJP spokesperson Vishnuvardhan Reddyclaimed that “before Naidu returns, the political scene in Andhra Pradesh will dramatically change, with the TDP at the centre of the crisis. He said TDP members were fed up with Naidu’s family obsession and the role of Nara Lokesh and were quitting”.
Meanwhile, about 20 Kapu leaders of TDP met in a private hotel in Kakinada, ostensibly to review the political developments after the election debacle. . The meeting was conducted under the leadership of Thota Trimurthulu. It was attended by several seniors like Jyothula Nehru, Bonda Uma and others.
There was widespread speculation that the Kapu leaders may leave the TDP and join the BJP or some of them may join the YSR Congress. The BJP had weaned away a strong Kapu leader, Kanna Laxminarayana from the Congress , made him the State President, with a long- term intent to wean away the Kapus from the TDP. It now seems to be working, going by the developments in the last couple of days.
However, Trimurthulu said, "We have met here only to analyse and review what went wrong in the elections. We are not contemplating to quit the TDP. Please don't indulge in speculation."
The Kapus are a dominant community in the two Godavari districts and they are in sizable numbers in some of the other coastal districts as well and have been a big support base for the TDP ever since its formation in 1983 by NT Rama Rao.