HYDERABAD — The fate of the Chandrababu Naidu-led Telugu Desam Party (TDP), a UPA partner in 2019 Lok Sabha polls, is in doubt after four of its six Rajya Sabha members from Andhra Pradesh defected on Thursday to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The resolution to merge the legislature party of TDP with BJP was passed by TDP Rajya Sabha MP YS Chowdary and three other MPs — CM Ramesh, Garikapati Mohan Rao and TG Venkatesh.
Confirming the merger, Chowdary told Huffpost India, “The party will be merged with BJP under paragraph four of the tenth schedule of the constitution”.
Close aides of Chowdary said the MPs have been disgruntled ever since the party was routed in 2019 Lok Sabha elections. TDP had won just three out of 25 Lok Sabha seats in the recently concluded general elections. Rival YSR Congress Party, led by the incumbent Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, routed TDP by winning 23 seats. In the Assembly election, TDP could only manage to get 23 seats while YSR Congress won 151 out of 175 seats.
According to close aides of Chowdary, the rift widened as Naidu failed to reassure its members to stay on. Naidu, who refused to attend the oath taking ceremony of Jagan Reddy, is currently taking a vacation abroad.
Naidu said that the crisis was not new to the party and workers have nothing to be worried about, reported ANI. He also condemned the BJP’s efforts to weaken TDP. “We fought with BJP only for Special Category Status and state’s interests. We sacrificed central ministers for Special Status,” he was quoted as saying by ANI.
Chowdary, who owns Sujana Group of Industries, was the Minister of State for Science and Technology during the last term of National Democratic Alliance government. TDP was in alliance with BJP during the last term. Naidu quit the alliance in March 2018, accusing the BJP of refusing to grant Special Category Status to Andhra Pradesh.
The split has also revealed the caste dynamics within the weakened TDP as Chowdary is a leading voice among the dominant Kamma caste. The other two MPs, Ramesh and Mohan Rao, are Kappu leaders who have been yearning for power for the last four years within the Kamma dominated TDP, observers said.
In the neighbouring state of Telangana, similar defections had weakened Congress. The party is now reduced to six MLAs in the legislative Assembly.