Five YSR Cong MPs had resigned in April; bypolls will see Naidu and Jagan Mohan fighting for supremacy in AP.
Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan is expected to summon each one of the five YSR Congress MPs, who had submitted their resignations last month, for personal verification anytime after Tuesday, 15 May. She is likely to accept the resignations if she is satisfied that they had tendered their papers on their own, kicking off a mini battle of byelections in Andhra Pradesh in the next two to three months. The office of the Speaker has made indications to the five MPs that they will have to be available for any meeting with the “Chair” from next week onwards. The five MPs—Mekapati Rajamohan Reddy (Nellore), Y.V. Subba Reddy (Ongole), Dr V. Varaprasada Rao (Tirupati), Y.S. Avinash Reddy (Kadapa) and P.V. Mithun Reddy (Rajampet)—had submitted their resignations on 6 April.
They had quit their LS seats as part of their protest against the Centre’s refusal to grant a special category status to Andhra Pradesh. YSR Congress leader and opposition MLA Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy called upon the TDP MPs to quit for the special status cause, so that the Centre would budge.
Initially it was assumed that the Speaker might not look into their papers till the next session that will be held sometime in July-August. Usually the Speaker calls the members (who have resigned) during the Assembly session in which they quit, but in this case the five MPs had quit on the last day of the Budget session. If there is only six months’ time left to the general elections, by the time the process of verification and acceptance is completed, then the Election Commission may not hold bypolls.
However, now that the BJP and the YSR Congress have inched closer to each other in Andhra, following the ruling TDP pulling out of NDA government at the Centre, there is a distinct possibility of byelections in the Lok Sabha constituencies held by Jagan’s MPs.
Also, any electoral setback to CM Naidu barely six to seven months before the general elections would brighten the prospects of the opposition camp in the state. Jagan, who is solely championing the cause of the special status, is confident of retaining all five seats.
CM Naidu told his party men during a review meeting in Amaravati on Friday that they should be ready for a mini-general election by July-August. He made it clear that his party would fight all the byelections and try to win them, too. His statement came in the wake of reports that Jagan might appeal to him to support his candidates in the byelections.
The relations between CM Naidu and BJP were further strained after TDP cadre attacked the convoy of BJP national president Amit Shah in Tirupati on Friday. Activists demanding special status for the state tried to stop Shah’s car at Alipiri in the foothills of Tirumala. They pelted stones on Shah’s convoy, damaging the windscreens of a car in the convoy.
The police used force to quell the mob and arrested some TDP workers in the incident. CM Naidu condemned the attack but BJP leaders termed it a pre-planned one. BJP MLC in Andhra, Somu Veerraju vowed to teach TDP and Naidu a lesson in the coming months. If byelections were held in the five vacated Lok Sabha seats, the BJP might back YSR Congress, sources in the party said.
In Karnataka, several TDP senior leaders and activists had campaigned for the Congress and appealed to the voters to defeat the BJP.