4  TDP Rajya Sabha MPs set to jump ship to BJP

The TDP appears headed for a crisis with four of its six Rajya Sabha members on the verge of defecting to the BJP. They met the Rajya Sabha Chairman and Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu in the presence of BJP working president JP Nadda and handed over a letter requesting him to consider them as a separate group in the House, reportedly to dodge disqualification.

The four MPs are former union minister Y Sujana Chowdary, C M Ramesh, TG Venkatesh, and Garikapati Mohan Rao. All of them are known as close associates of TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu. 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.

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.

Interestingly, these four MPs are said to be more worried about their business and personal interests. 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.

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