Is Rajya Sabha becoming TDP-mukt?
In a major jolt to the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), four of its Rajya Sabha members are set to switch over to the BJP. The regional party, headed by N Chandrababu Naidu, has six MPs in the Upper House.
The former Union Minister Sujana Choudary, CM Ramesh, TG Venkatesh, and G Mohan Rao submitted a joint letter to the Rajya Sabha chairman M Venkaiah Naidu, seeking to merge their group with the BJP.
Earlier, the four MPs had a meeting with the BJP president Amit Shah in Delhi on Thursday (June 20), triggering speculation about their imminent exit from the TDP which lost power in the April 11 elections to the Andhra Pradesh Assembly.
“Inspired and encouraged by the impeccable leadership of Narendra Modi ji and the development policies being pursued by him in the overall interest of the nation, we have decided to merge with the BJP with immediate effect,” said a resolution passed at a meeting of the four MPs.
The shocker comes at a time when Chandrababu Naidu is on a vacation to Europe with his family. The TDP sources confirmed that the four MPs are on their way out. “Our party chief has been informed about the developments. We have faced several such crises in the past and we will overcome this,” the party sources said. The latest desertions will deal a major blow to the TDP which is already smarting under humiliating drubbing in the recent elections. The party had managed to win just 3 Lok Sabha seats out of 25 from the state and 23 assembly seats in the 175-member House.
Ironically, Sujana Choudary and Ramesh have been close confidants of Naidu, so much so that there was widespread resentment within the party over their growing role in the decision making process. Both the MPs had a major say in choosing the party candidates in the recent elections. And, both of them had faced a series of searches by Income Tax, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) in recent months.
Choudary, a leading industrialist, has been the TDP supremo’s Man Friday in Delhi. He has been facing charges from the ED and the CBI while his companies in Vijayawada and other places were raided by these agencies in the past. Another MP TG Venkatesh heads a leading infrastructure firm in the Rayalaseema region handling contracts worth several crores. His firm is also under the radar of the ED and Income Tax Department.
According to BJP sources, the party would take a final call on admitting the TDP MPs after the state unit president K Lakshminarayana returns from his pilgrimage to Manas Sarovar. With four out of the six members breaking away, the rebels will meet the legal requirement of anti-defection law, which mandates the support of at least two-third members for a split to be recognised in the Parliament.
The developments came amid claims by the BJP that several leaders from various parties in both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana were keen to join their party. “I am leaving the TDP to join the BJP in the interest of the development of my region (backward Rayalaseema),” Venkatesh said.
Meanwhile, in a brief statement issued to the media, Naidu said, “The crisis is not new to the party. Leaders and cadre have nothing to be nervous about. We fought with BJP only for special category status and state’s interests. We sacrificed central ministers for special status. We condemn the attempts of BJP to weaken TDP.”