Swept out of power in Andhra Pradesh and handed a drubbing in the Lok Sabha elections, the TDP took another big hit Thursday as four of its six Rajya Sabha MPs joined the BJP while chief N Chandrababu Naidu was holidaying in Europe with his family.
Hours before BJP’s new working president J P Nadda welcomed them into the party fold at a press conference in New Delhi, the four TDP MPs — Y Satyanarayana Chowdary, C M Ramesh, T G Venkatesh and Garikapati Mohan Rao — announced their decision to merge with the BJP “with immediate effect”.
In a series of tweets later, Chandrababu Naidu accused the MPs of pursuing “their own personal agendas” and said the crisis will not affect his party.
Regional churn after Lok Sabha polls
The defection in the TDP’s Rajya Sabha ranks reflects a churn among regional outfits and alliances after the Lok Sabha elections, which was dominated by the BJP. The SP-BSP alliance in UP has collapsed, the ruling Cong-JDS tie-up in Karnataka is in tatters and there is disquiet within the RJD in Bihar. This gives rise to the key question: Is there more to come?
Since the TDP has only six members in Rajya Sabha, the four teamed up to avoid the anti-defection law. The MPs said they were informing Rajya Sabha chairman M Venkaiah Naidu about their decision. Their move to cross over is a shot in the arm for the BJP which lacks numbers in Rajya Sabha — its strength will rise from 71 to 75 in the 245-member House.
“Inspired and encouraged by the impeccable leadership of Shri Narendra Modiji and the developmental policies being pursued by him in the overall interest of the nation, we have decided to merge with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with immediate effect under Paragraph 4 of the Tenth Schedule to the Constitution of India,” their resolution stated.
Venkatesh said: “For the sake of development of my Rayalaseema region, I want to join the BJP. People all over the country want only Modi. We also want only BJP. The BJP also wants to increase its members in Rajya Sabha, so I agreed when they said it would be mutually beneficial if I join the BJP. It will take some time to complete the formalities. Obviously, I will quit TDP.’’
A Minister of State in the first Modi government before the TDP parted ways, Chowdary said: “We have seen the great work done by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. After seeing the development work done by this government, we decided to join BJP and build a great nation. I have experienced how this government functions when I was MoS for three-and-half years. We also want to work for development of Andhra Pradesh which has suffered a lot after its bifurcation.”
After the MPs deserted him, Chandrababu Naidu took to Twitter: “All my life, I have strived for the good of people and will continue to do so regardless of being in power or not. TDP MPs joining BJP today is the result of my fight for AP’s rights. They had their own personal agendas to address.”
“These crises situations are not new to me, not new to the party. Earlier, many said TDP is dead. Many said TDP is a closed chapter. Many said leaders are deserting the party and that it will be gone and buried. We never gave up. We came back. We have lakhs of Karyakarthas and crores of Telugu people behind us. History will repeat itself. There is nothing to worry #TDPWillBeBack,” he posted.
At a press conference in New Delhi, Nadda welcomed the TDP MPs and said the BJP had given approval to the merger and the MPs were now BJP members. He said he was sure their induction will strengthen the BJP in Andhra Pradesh.