JP Nadda with rebel TDP lawmakers. (Screengrab)
Addressing his first press conference as BJP working chief, JP Nadda on Thursday said that all the four TDP Rajya Sabha members were impressed by the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and we welcome them to the party.
"TDP MPs joined BJP for vikas of Andhra Pradesh. They are impressed by PM's dynamic leadership," Nadda said.
While three lawmakers, YS Chowdary - former Union Minister, TG Venkatesh and CM Ramesh joined the BJP in presence of Nadda at party's headquarters in the national capital on Thursday, Garikapati Mohan Rao will to formally join later as he is unwell.
TDP MPs of Rajya Sabha- YS Chowdary, CM Ramesh, TG Venkatesh, join BJP in presence of BJP Working President JP Nadda. TDP Rajya Sabha MP GM Rao to formally join later as he is unwell. pic.twitter.com/IU6ximVYtd— ANI (@ANI) June 20, 2019
Earlier, they met Vice President Venkaiah Naidu, who is also the chairman of the Rajya Sabha, and gave him a letter stating that they have "decided to merge" the TDP's Legislature Party with the BJP with immediate effect.
They passed a resolution to merge Legislature Party of TDP with BJP.
"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 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.
Reacting to the development, TDP president Chandrababu Naidu said, "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."
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.