VIJAYAWADA: The TDP appears headed for a crisis with four of its six Rajya Sabha members on the verge of defecting to the BJP. Sources told TNIE they are likely to meet Rajya Sabha Chairman and Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu shortly and request him to consider them as a separate group in the House reportedly to dodge disqualification.
The four likely defectors are Y Sujana Chowdary, CM Ramesh, TG Venkatesh, and Garikapati Mohan Rao. Of the remaining two, Thota Seetharama Lakshmi, and Kanakamedala Ravindra Kumar, the former is also reportedly in touch with BJP leaders.
The four MPs have met BJP national general secretary Ram Madhav twice in the recent past and at least one of them held talks with Union Home Minister Amit Shah too. Shah, the sources said, entrusted the task of negotiations to his deputy and Secunderabad MP G Kishan Reddy.
None of the MPs in question confirmed or denied reports of their imminent defection. TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu is currently on a vacation in Europe. The BJP, following the recent Lok Sabha elections, is keen on emerging as the main Opposition party in Andhra Pradesh and luring Rajya Sabha members of the TDP may well be the first step in that direction.
Besides, the BJP-led NDA, which is in a minority in the Upper House, will be glad to bolster its numbers though it is certain to gain a majority in the House next year.
The defection of the MPs is likely to open the floodgates in the TDP, which finds itself in an existential crisis following the humiliating loss in the recent Assembly elections. With party chief N Chandrababu Naidu yet to recover from the shocking defeat and age too catching up with him, and his son Lokesh, who himself was defeated in the Assembly polls, failing to step up, several TDP leaders appear to be of the view that continuance in the party could be political suicide for them.
Far more important, however, are their business and personal interests. Of the four TDP MPs, Sujana Chowdary is under the scanner of the Enforcement Directorate for an alleged Rs 6,000-crore bank fraud. Similarly, at least two other MPs including CM Ramesh, have business interests, involving contracts of major works worth hundreds of crores.
With the Jagan Mohan Reddy government making it clear that it is going to go for reverse tendering and scrutinise all major contracts, they fear they might lose lucrative deals or in the worst case scenario, find themselves in the dock.
When contacted, a senior TDP leader, on condition of anonymity, told TNIE, "The MPs are looking towards the BJP for political survival and to protect their business interests. Had the TDP sailed with the saffron party this situation would not have arisen."
In a related development, several former MLAs of the TDP belonging to the Kapu community met in Kakinada this morning and reportedly discussed their future course of action. It is learnt a majority of them have expressed their willingness to join the BJP.
BJP leaders, including Muralidhar Rao, have recently hinted at defections from the TDP but when contacted, state BJP leaders refused comment, saying any statement at this moment might jeopardise their strategy.
The BJP could not win even a single Lok Sabha or Assembly seat in the recent elections in Andhra Pradesh.