As the Centre prepares to table the Telangana bill in Parliament this week, several Congress MLAs have already started leaving the party as they believe it is the only way to salvage their political careers when they expect the party to be wiped out in the elections.
Mines and Geology Minister Galla Aruna Kumari shared the dais with Telugu Desam Party president N Chandrababu Naidu at a public meeting in Chittor. Kumari, the MLA from Chandragiri, will formally quit the Congress and join the TDP next week. Naidu is learnt to have assured her the assembly ticket from Chandragiri or any of the other constituencies in Chittor district. Kumari’s son G Jayadev is likely to contest on a TDP ticket from Guntur Lok Sabha seat.
Former minister Dharmana Prasada Rao, Vizag (North) MLA T Vijay Kumar, and Palasa MLA J Jagan Naikulu joined the YSR Congress Party Monday. Dharmana Prasada Rao, MLA from Srikakulam, was chargesheeted in the disproportionate assets case against Y S Jaganmohan Reddy. Rao said he has submitted his resignation to Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy and the speaker’s office, and sent a fax to AICC.
Magunta Srinivasulu Reddy, Congress MP from Ongole, is also hinting that he might join the TDP as he feels the Congress’s prospects in Coastal Andhra are very bleak. “I have not yet decided but things are not looking good,” Reddy said.
In another jolt to the Congress, two party MLAs in Nellore district, both loyalists of Finance Minister Anam Ramanarayana Reddy who too hails from the district, have decided to quit and join either the TDP or the YSRCP. In a district of 10 seats, four seats each are held by the Congress and the TDP and the remaining two by the YSRCP.
“A similar situation is developing in Vizag district with 15 constituencies. Our MLAs are veering towards the YSRCP or the TDP. They are doing so because they are under tremendous pressure from their supporters and the local Congress cadre to quit the party for causing the bifurcation and join a regional party like the TDP or the YSRCP,’’ a Congress leader said.
Sources said Union Tourism Minister K Chiranjeevi, who merged his Praja Rajyam Party with the Congress, is trying hard to keep his flock of 16 MLAs in the Congress fold. A source said the MLAs, including minister G Srinivasa Rao, may join either the TDP or the YSRCP in the next few weeks.
The Congress is also getting reports that a number of Congress MLAs and MPs, who may not be able to switch loyalties themselves, are seeking tickets for their sons, daughters and relatives. Former Congress minister and Anantapur strongman J C Diwakar Reddy is seeking a TDP ticket for his son Pavan Reddy. Sabita Indra Reddy, who resigned as home minister after being named in the Jaganmohan Reddy case, is expecting a ticket for her son Karthik Reddy failing which she may look to other parties for support.
The rush out of the Congress is only expected to get thicker after the Telangana bill is tabled in the Lok Sabha as anti-Congress passions will run high in Coastal and Rayalaseema areas. Jaganmohan, who is touring the Coastal districts, is attracting a lot of support from local Congress leaders.