Naidu has instructed his party ministers to find out the reasons for a large number of former MLAs and local leaders switching sides.

 

Hyderabad: Weeks before the election notification for the Lok Sabha and Andhra Pradesh Assembly elections, Chief Minster and TDP chief N. Chandrababu Naidu faces the challenge of managing his flock. In a few days, a sitting TDP MP from Visakhapatnam Muttamsetti (Avanthi) Srinivasa Rao and a sitting TDP MLA Amanchi Krishna Mohan from Chirala quit the party and joined YSR Congress of Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy.

Naidu has instructed his party ministers to find out the reasons for a large number of former MLAs and local level leaders switching sides and joining Jagan before the elections.

Both are considered to be strong candidates and belong to the dominant Kapu community. The defection of MP Srinivasa Rao came as a surprise to Naidu as only a few days ago he was on an official tour and profusely praised the leadership of the Chief Minister. Srinivasa Rao heads the Avanthi group of educational institutions both in Andhra and Telangana. He also commands the loyalty of some other Kapu legislators in TDP.

Srinivasa Rao is believed to have asked for Bheemili Assembly seat in which Education Minister Ganta Srinivasa Rao is also interested, and the Chief Minister is not ready to displease his minister. Sources in TDP said that the MP had enjoyed all privileges of being in the ruling party in the last five years and now had defected for “selfish purposes”.

Srinivasa Rao, however, denied the charges and told this newspaper on phone from Vijayawada that he had decided to leave TDP in view of the popular discontentment against the Chandrababu Naidu government. “We couldn’t keep our promises and people are unhappy and this government had been working only for a few people,” he said.

TDP has fielded senior Kapu leaders to refute the charges made by the Visakhapatnam MP, but its leaders are finding it difficult to adjust to a possible loss due to the defection of a strong Kapu MP ahead of elections. “We have admitted as many as 22 YSR Congress MLAs in the last four years and made four of them ministers, but these defections days before the polls are unfortunate,” said a TDP MLA from Guntur.

Same is the case with the defection of Amanchi Krishna Mohan who represents the Chirala Assembly seat from Prakasam district, where the TDP is relatively weak. Krishna Mohan is believed to be in touch with Daggubati Venkateswara Rao, former minster and husband of former Union minister Purandeswari whose son Hitesh Chenchuram recently joined Jagan’s party.

TDP suffered a jolt recently as its sitting MLA from Rajampet from Kadapa district Meda Mallikarjuna Reddy had quit his seat and had announced his decision to join YSR Congress. Mallikarjuna Reddy is the only TDP MLA elected from Kadapa district, a stronghold of Jagan, in 2014. Naidu has been trying hard to win majority seats in Kadapa district this time.

The Chief Minister is unhappy with former Union Minister Kotla Surya Prakasha Reddy not joining TDP even after meeting him a few days ago. Now, Reddy is stated to be planning to join Jagan’s party.

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