VIJAYAWADA : In a surprise move, AP Legislative Assembly Speaker Tammineni Sitaram on Tuesday accepted the resignation of TDP MLA from Visakhapatnam North Ganta Srinivasa Rao.
Though Ganta submitted his resignation in the Speaker’s format in February, 2021 opposing the move to privatise Visakhapatnam Steel Plant, the Speaker accepted it after almost three years.
Confirming the acceptance of resignation, the Speaker told TNIE that he would also seek an explanation from nine MLAs -- four each from the YSRC and the TDP and one from the Jana Sena Party -- on switching their loyalties to other parties and why action could not be taken against them.
The development gains significance as three Rajya Sabha MP seats from the State will fall vacant in April. The tenure of MPs Kanakamedala Ravindra Kumar of TDP, Vemireddy Prabhakar Reddy of YSRC and CM Ramesh of BJP will come to an end on April 2. Elections are likely to be held in February or March. The notification to fill the three vacancies is likely to be issued at any time and the ruling YSRC, which has denied seats close to 30 sitting MLAs, seems to be fearing that the ‘disgruntled’ MLAs may switch their loyalties to the TDP and vote against the YSRC nominees to the Rajya Sabha.
In the 175-member Assembly, the YSRC has a strength of 151, TDP 23 and Jana Sena Party one. The TDP’s strength has declined to 22 with the acceptance of Ganta’s resignation.
Going by the strength of MLAs, the YSRC has an absolute majority to bag all the three Rajya Sabha seats on its own. In addition, it is also enjoying the support of four TDP MLAs and one JSP legislator.
The party, however, lost one of the MLC seats under the MLAs’ quota with the last minute defection of four of its MLAs in March last year. Subsequently, the party suspended the four defected MLAs, Undavalli Sridevi, Anam Ramnarayana Reddy, Kotamreddy Sridhar Reddy and Mekapati Chandrasekhar Reddy, for going against the whip issued by the party.
In an apparent bid to prevent a similar situation, the Speaker is said to have accepted the resignation of Ganta, sources said. Ahead of the elections, the YSRC leadership has taken up a massive exercise to select winning horses and till now effected change of incharges of 10 MP and 59 MLA seats.
Majority of them have been dropped while some others have been given an alternative seat. This has led to discontentment among sitting MLAs like Kolusu Parthasarathi, Kapu Ramachandra Reddy, K Rakshana Nidhi and others. While some of them have expressed their ire openly and dropped enough hints that they are going desert the YSRC, some others are keeping their cards close to their chest.
Mangalagiri YSRC MLA Alla Ramakrishna Reddy, who already submitted his resignation to his post and the party, joined the Congress recently. The Speaker is yet to decide on the resignation of Alla.
Anticipating trouble in the Rajya Sabha elections and to prevent a situation that it faced in last year’s MLC elections, the YSRC leadership is said to have decided to crack the whip and the acceptance of resignation of Ganta is said to be the first step. It is also likely to disqualify the YSRC rebel MLAs in the days to come.
The principal Opposition party TDP is not in a position to win a single Rajya Sabha seat going by its strength of 22. But, the YSRC going by the dissidence among some of its MLAs, seems to be suspecting that they may support the TDP nominee in the Rajya Sabha elections and initiated steps to disqualify them, sources added.
Meanwhile, Ganta, who earlier urged the Speaker to take a decision on his resignation, said he would seek legal opinion on the acceptance of his resignation ahead of elections to the Rajya Sabha.
“Why did the Speaker accept my resignation after three years? This shows that Jagan is fearing the lose of Rajya Sabha seat,’’ Ganta said.