In a major setback to Chandrababu Naidu-led Telugu Desam Party (TDP), four out of its six Rajya Sabha MPs have quit the party to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Two MPs, YS Chowdary - former Union Minister and TG Venkatesh have confirmed that they will join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Other two MPs who have quit TDP are CM Ramesh and Garikapati Mohan Rao. All the four MPs are expected to hold a press conference shortly.
While Chowdary, Venkatesh, and Ramesh are Rajya Sabha members from Andhra Pradesh Mohan Rao has been elected from Telangana.
They met M Venkaiah Naidu, Vice President and Rajya Sabha Chairman, in Delhi and submitted a letter seeking that they should be recognised as a separate group.
"Yes, I am leaving TDP. I will join the BJP. I have been a former member of ABVP & BJYM (BJP youth wing)," Venkatesh was quoted as saying by ANI.
Telugu Desam Party (TDP) MP YS Chowdary on if he is joining BJP: Yes I am joining pic.twitter.com/89IEKauO8I— ANI (@ANI) June 20, 2019
"Inspired and encouraged by the impeccable leadership of Shri 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 Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with immediate effect under Paragraph 4 of the Tenth Schedule to the Constitution of India," the resolution to merge Legislature Party of Telugu Desam Party (TDP) with BJP reads.
Their decision to back the BJP will give a boost to the BJP in the Upper House as the ruling National Democratic Alliance does not have a majority there yet.
TDP MPs of Rajya Sabha- YS Chowdary, CM Ramesh, TG Venkatesh and GM Rao, today passed a resolution to merge Legislature Party of Telugu Desam Party (TDP) with BJP. pic.twitter.com/3ln6qy5l8G— ANI (@ANI) June 20, 2019
Reacting to the development, Chandrababu Naidu said that leaders and cadre have nothing to be nervous about.
"We fought with BJP only for Special Category Status & state's interests. We sacrificed Central Ministers for Special Status, condemn attempts of BJP to weaken TDP. Crisis is not new to the party. Leaders and cadre have nothing to be nervous about," Naidu, who is in London, said.
The TDP has six members in the Rajya Sabha. If four of them break away, then it 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 Parliament.
The Rajya Sabha has a strength of 245 members and the BJP is the single largest party with 71 MPs.
The development comes days after the Telugu Desam Party suffered a drubbing in the Assembly and Lok Sabha Elections.
The top leadership is worried that several MLAs may follow the suit, stripping the TDP of principal opposition party status in Andhra Pradesh. The TDP's strength is 23 in the 175-member Assembly.
Earlier, there were reports that senior TDP leader and former minister E Peddi Reddy, a two-time MLA, was planning to join the BJP soon.
"There is willingness from my side and they (BJP) requested me to join. I am discussing with all. Most probably, their (BJP) leadership would give date and time... (for joining) in Hyderabad," he had said.
Reddy, who is a general secretary of TDP, had served as minister during the tenure of TDP President N Chandrababu Naidu as Chief Minister in undivided Andhra Pradesh. He won twice from Huzurabad in Karimnagar district.
Senior TRS leader A P Jithender Reddy, D K Aruna, who had served as a Minister in the erstwhile Andhra Pradesh, and former Congress MLC, P Sudhakar Reddy, had recently joined the BJP.