Hyderabad/Amaravati: Four days ago, YSR Congress MLA Giddi Eswari defected to the ruling Telugu Desam Party headed by Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu in Andhra Pradesh.
She was the 23rd MLA from Y S Jaganmohan Reddy’s party to walk over to the ruling party in the last three years.
A month ago, another MLA, V Rajeshwari, had quit the YSRCP to join the TDP.
In the 2014 Assembly polls, the YSRCP won 67 seats in the 175-member Andhra Pradesh assembly. The defection started a few months after Naidu settled down in office.
In just 36 months, Reddy has lost 1/3 of his MLAs to TDP. He is now left with just 44 MLAs and not sure about how many of them will really stay with him till the next elections in April/May 2019.
Most of the defecting MLAs who left the YSRCP claim that they left to save their honour and pride. They even call Reddy a dictator. He hit back, calling them opportunists who have switched sides for money.
Reddy, who is currently on padayatra across Andhra Pradesh to galvanize the party cadre, has boycotted the ongoing Assembly session over mass defections, alleging they were engineered by Naidu.
Meanwhile, in newly-created state of Telangana, the TDP has been at the receiving end of defections with Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao accused of engineering large scale defections from opposition parties to Telangana Rashtra Samithi.
Out of total 15 MLAs of TDP, 12 have deserted in just three years. With them, village level leaders to state level leaders of the TDP have also joining the TRS. KCR who won just 63 seats in 2014 has now taken the party strength to 90 in the 119-member Assembly through defections.
The MLAs who have defected have even been made ministers in both the states. Four YSRCP MLAs have made it to Naidu’s Cabinet in AP while still being members of YSRCP in official record. In Telangana, KCR has made one TDP MLA a minister.
Telangana Assembly Speaker S Madhusudhanachari has acknowledged the defectors as members of TRS, claiming that 80% of TDP MLAs have merged with the TRS. But the anti-defection law makes it clear that 1/3 of the MLAs or MPs have to defect at one go to escape from the disqualification. If they leave one by one over a period of time, their membership has to be cancelled.
In AP, Speaker Kodela Shivaprasada Rao has also ignored the demands made by Reddy to disqualify the defectors. Reddy even met the President of India demanding strict action, saying this was a subversion of Constitution.
Speaking to News18, he said, “Chandrababu Naidu is the mastermind. He is using unconstitutional and corrupt methods to weaken the opposition. He has offered huge money and ministerial berths to defectors. The shocking thing is entire country is quietly watching this day light murder of democracy”.
TDP dismisses his charges calling him a frustrated soul. The TRS also defended the defections, claiming that opposition MLAs are switching sides on their own to serve their voters better.
Reddy, who has already completed over 300 km of his total 3000 km padayatra, warns that the voters will teach a lesson to defectors and TDP in the next election.