Hyderabad: In a shock to the YSR Congress, two of its newly-elected MPs — S.P.Y. Reddy from Nandyal and Butta Renuka from Kurnool — defected to the Telugu Desam on Sunday, kicking off the poaching season just nine days after the election results.
Mr Reddy, an industrialist, Ms Renuka and her husband Neelakantam of Meridian Schools met Mr Naidu on Sunday and joined the TD. At least five YSRC MLAs, mostly from Rayal-aseema, are said to be in touch with the TD leadership. The two MPs claimed that the YSRC was only a registered party and not a recognised political party and the defection law would not apply to them.
Experts opined that the YSRC MPs who defected to the TD are likely to face disqualification under Schedule 10 of the anti-defection law. The law doesn’t discriminate between recognised and unrecognised political parties; it only speaks about the original political party that gave the ticket to the elected representative, said Central Information Commissioner Madabushi Sridhar, a law expert. “It’s unconstitutional and immoral to defect from the party,” he said.
It is believed that the business interests of the two MPs played a part in their switching sides. Mr Reddy owns Nandi Pipes, a major player in the sector. Ms Renuka’s family owns textile and jewellery businesses, apart from running the Meridian School in Hyderabad.
Mr S.P.Y. Reddy generally aligns with the ruling party. After the death of Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy, he had maintained good relations with Mr N. Kiran Kumar Reddy and jumped to the YSRC a few months before the elections. He did not inform the YSRC of his decision to quit the party on Sunday.
A three-time MP from Nandyal, Mr Reddy justified his decision saying: “Though it is morally wrong to some extent, I joined the TD to develop my constituency. I have to sail with the party in power for five years. The BJP is in power at the Centre and the TD in the state.
“Due to bifurcation, the state is at a critical junction. My constituency faces a serious irrigation problem. We have lost Hyderabad and we need jobs and education facilities. I trust Mr Naidu can deliver as Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh,” Mr Reddy said.
“Some people who voted for me may feel bad. But I have no option for the sake of development. We depend on Krishna water. As Telangana gets separated it is difficult for us to get water,” Mr Reddy said.
“Mr Naidu received me well today and spoke to me sweetly,” he said. “I have no rift with Jagan. I met Mr Narendra Modi recently after the election results along with Jagan.”
Mr Reddy said he was ready to face disqualification. “I will contest again. I won with a 1.8-lakh majority and now I will win with 2-lakh majority. Both the party and my personal image helped me win the elections,” he said.
Mr Reddy said that former minister T.G. Venkatesh had facilitated his meeting with Mr Naidu. “Even Renuka approached Mr Naidu through him,” he said.
Ms Renuka said that she would continue as a YSRC MP but would be an associate member of the TD. However TD MP C.M. Ramesh said, “Her husband has joined us and it means she has also joined us.”
Mr Naidu’s aides are believed to be in touch with several MPs and MLAs of the YSRC to get them to switch sides by offering ministerial berths and key posts. In this, Mr Naidu appears to be following in the footsteps of Dr Rajasekhar Reddy who in 2009 had similarly attracted Opposition legislators to the Congress.