In AP, it’s the season for party-hopping

M Somasekhar/Ch R S Sarma Hyderabad/Visakhapatnam | Updated on March 15, 2019 Published on March 15, 2019

With election dates announced, the usual party-hopping for better fortunes has gathered steam in Andhra Pradesh, which goes to polls on April 11.

At the moment, the flow seems to be going against Chief Minister and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief N Chandrababu Naidu, who has suffered several defections.

The exits began even as Naidu sat in protest in New Delhi — highlighting the fight for special category status and against the “injustice” meted out to AP — weeks ago.

The residual State of AP, post bifurcation in 2014, has 25 seats in the Lok Sabha and a 175-member Legislative Assembly. On April 11, the State will have simultaneous elections. At present, the TDP has 15 MPs, while the Opposition YSR Congress has eight, and the BJP, two.

Magunta Srinivasulu Reddy, a veteran MP from Ongole, is the latest leader to announce his decision to quit the TDP. He is heading to the YSR Congress. Similarly, Thota Narasimham, an MP representing Kakinada — and a member of the Kapu community — moved to the YSR Congress as he failed to get a positive response from Naidu on his request to allow his wife to contest for the Assembly from the East Godavari district. Narasimham himself has withdrawn from contest, citing ill-health.

In the reverse direction, three MPs and 25 MLAs of the YS Jaganmohan Reddy-led YSR Congress Party have shifted loyalty to the ruling TDP.

TDP’s catch

Kotla Surya Prakasa Reddy, the son of two-time chief minister of united Andhra Pradesh and Union Minister Kotla Vijayabhaskara Reddy, too joined the TDP and is likely to contest from the Kurnool LS seat.

Kishore Chandra Deo, another veteran tribal leader and Union Minister in the Congress, has moved to the TDP and either he or his son is likely to contest from the Araku LS constituency in Visakhapatnam district. GV Harsha Kumar and Panabaka Lakshmi, who were elected to the Lok Sabha in the past, are set to join and may contest from Amalapuram and Nellore respectively.

Following these developments, Ravindra Babu Pandula, the present TDP MP from Amalapuram, decided to switch sides to the YSRCP.

Prominent TDP leader Rayapati Sambasiva Rao, a Guntur-based tobacco exporter and an MP from the Narsaraopeta constituency, is also reportedly upset, while Siddha Raghava Rao, a minister in Naidu’s cabinet, who has been asked to contest from Ongole, is said to be reluctant and wants to stick to the Assembly.

Challenge before Jagan

The Congress,which had nearly half a dozen ministers in the UPA-2 led by Manmohan Singh, also lost a few leaders to the YSR Congress. Notable among them was Killi Krupa Rani, former Union Minister and MP from Srikakulam. She expressed disappointment with the party’s tie-up with TDP and quit.

M Srinivas Rao, the sitting TDP MP from Anakapalle constituency, has switched loyalties to the YSR Congress. Another former MP, C Ramachandraiah, and State Minister Vatti Vasanth Kumar too made their way to Jagan’s party.

The YSR Congress is being flooded with applications for the Assembly seats too, with many from the Congress making the beeline. It has a tougher job getting the right candidates for LS seats, including Visakhapatnam.

The Pawan Kalyan factor

Telugu filmstar Pawan Kalyan’s Jana Sena Party has decided to go it alone in the elections as on date and has started announcing candidates too. It’s important to note that Pawan’s support was a key factor that swung the result in favour of Naidu in the 2014 Assembly elections.

Published on March 15, 2019
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