VIJAYAWADA: Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu is going in for the kill. Not content with spiring four MLAs and one MLC from the YSR Congress, the Telugu Desam Party supremo is bent upon engineering more defections from the opposition party, particularly in Kurnool and Kadapa, the native district of the leader of the opposition, Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy.
Apparently rattled by Reddy's recent bluff that no less thatn 25 TDP MLAs were 'in touch' with him and that he could topple the TDP government anytime, Naidu went on the counter-offensive and lured four MLAs and one MLC away from the YSRC yesterday.
The defectors include P Adinarayana Reddy, his MLC brother P Narayana Reddy (both from Kadapa), Bhuma Nagi Reddy, his daughter Akhila Priya (both Kurnool) and Jaleel Khan (Vijayawada).
With this the TDP's strength in the 175-member Assembly goes up to 106.
Naidu now wants to go in for the kill and has despatched his son, Lokesh, who is the TDP's general secretary to Reddy's Kadapa district tomorrow.
It is being widely speculated that a channel of communication has been established with one more MLA who has begun showing signs of "yellow fever."
When Lokesh visits Kadapa tomorrow, he is expected to preside over the defection of at least five YSRC corporators of the Kadapa Municipal Corporation. The opposition party has 42 corporators in the corporation while the TDP has eight.
Any gain is significant in Kadapa since it the heart of Jagan Mohan Reddy's kingdom.
Naidu may be able to batter the YSRC fortress in Kurnool too. Having already won over Kurnool lawmakers Bhuma Nagireddy and his daughter Akhila Priya, Naidu has set his confidantes a mission to trigger more defections.
The TDP has three seats in Kurnool district while the rest of eleven seats are held by YSRC.
In the Nandyal parliamentary constituency, only one of the seven assembly segments is held by TDP. With Bhuma Nagireddy and his daughter switching their loyalties to the TDP, the strength of the TDP has gone upto three.
In the remaining four constituencies, Nagireddy has influence and it is expected that at least three of them might cross over to TDP.
By netting Bhuma Nagireddy, Naidu has ensured that the TDP's strength is bolstered in Nandyal. Apart form this, the presence of Nagireddy would serve the other purpose of clipping the wings of his own deputy chief minister K E Krishna Murthy with whom he has not been seeing eye to eye lately.
In dealing with Bhuma Nagireddy, Naidu used his brother-in-law N Balakrishna who is close to the Bhuma family.
While this is so, in Viziangaram district too discontent is simmering in the YSRC. Legislator Venakta Sujay Krishna Ranga Rao (Bobbili) might don the yellow robes since he has been unhappy ever since Jagan Mohan Reddy inducted Congress leader Botcha Satyanarayana into the party.