Andhra Pradesh

Ahead of annual TDP Mahanadu, defections could jolt Chandrababu Naidu

The return to Andhra Pradesh after being forced to stay in Hyderabad for more than two months because of the lockdown, is not proving to be good news for Chandrababu Naidu. News of at least two Telugu Desam MLAs preparing to jump ship ahead of the party’s annual Mahanadu is doing the rounds. Already three of the TDP’s 23 MLAs are no longer sailing with Naidu though they have not formally joined the YSRCP. 

Though one of these two legislators – A Satyaprasad from Repalle – has denied he was moving out, any dent in the TDP’s already meagre strength in the Andhra Pradesh assembly will diminish Naidu’s stature. The intention clearly is to deflate the TDP morale during the Mahanadu, that already will be a tame affair since it will be held virtually. 

For some months now, YSRCP leaders have been dropping hints that more than 50 per cent of TDP legislators are in touch with them, suggesting that Naidu remains the Leader of the Opposition in the Andhra Pradesh assembly at their mercy. 

Does the YSRCP stand to gain by doing this? 

For one, this shows Jagan is paying Naidu back in the same coin even though he had claimed he will not behave in an unprincipled way like the TDP chief. When the TDP was in power, it lured 23 MLAs and 3 MPs of the YSRCP to join it and even made four of those MLAs ministers in the Naidu cabinet. Call it fate or sheer coincidence, the TDP strength in the Assembly in the 2019 elections was reduced to 23 MLAs and only three MPs got elected on the party ticket. 

Now Naidu cannot even condemn if any MLA shifts loyalties because the past has returned to haunt him. 

The larger question is does Jagan need to do this given his brute majority of 151/175 in the Assembly. It is obvious that many of these lawmakers – just like the 23 YSRCP MLAs in the previous Assembly – are opportunistic politicians who want to jump sides depending on what works to their personal advantage. 

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