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Jagan loses MP to Naidu

Chandrababu Naidu with Reddy (right) and Butta Renuka’s husband Neelakanthappa at Andhra Pradesh Bhavan in New Delhi on Saturday. (PTI)

Hyderabad, May 25: A YSR Congress MP in Seemandhra today joined Chandrababu Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party, and another offered issue-based support, amid fears that more defections could bleed Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy’s outfit.

Naidu’s Desam is set to form the government in the redrawn Andhra Pradesh, which formally splits on June 2 into Telangana and the residual Andhra.

S.P.Y. Reddy, who won on a YSRC ticket from Nandyal, met Naidu in Delhi before being admitted into the Desam. His party colleague Butta Renuka, who won from the Kurnool parliamentary seat, also met Naidu but clarified that she had not joined the Desam.

“I will support the TDP and (its ally) BJP on each issue of development of Seemandhra, both in Parliament and in the Assembly. However, I will continue to remain in the YSRC for the time being,” she said in a statement late this evening.

Asked if she would function as a YSRC member or a Desam parliamentarian, Renuka said she would extend issue-based support.

“I am not a full-time politician and the development of my constituency is my main goal,” she said, adding that if she was “disqualified or expelled”, she would contest again and win the seat.

Reddy spoke in a similar vein. The three-time MP from Nandyal, in Kurnool district, who had resigned from the Congress and joined the YSRC in protest against the bifurcation of Andhra a few months ahead of the elections, brushed aside suggestions of a rift with Jagan. “I joined the Desam with the only intention of development of my constituency and if my action attracts the anti-defection law and disqualification, I will contest again and win with a huge majority,” he said.

Lok Sabha officials said Reddy could attract disqualification under Schedule 10 of the anti-defection law, but the YSRC would have to petition the Speaker for such action.

Desam Rajya Sabha MP C.M. Ramesh, who allegedly masterminded the defection, said: “As many as 30 MLAs and a few more MPs are ready to join the Desam.”

The YSRC and the Desam are bitter rivals in Seemandhra, the region that will form the residual Andhra after Telangana is carved out. While the Desam and the BJP emerged victorious in the simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and the Assembly, the YSRC came second.

Reddy’s defection has come as a surprise as he was part of a Jagan-led delegation of YSRC MPs who met Prime Minister-elect Narendra Modi and BJP president Rajnath Singh in Delhi last Sunday.

“I have joined the Desam because the BJP is ruling at the Centre and the Desam is the ruling party in Seemandhra. I could better serve my constituency if I am with the Desam,” he said.

The Desam, which contested the elections in alliance with the BJP, has 102 MLAs in the 175-member House in Seemandhra. It won 16 of the 25 Lok Sabha seats in the region. With Reddy switching loyalties and Renuka offering support, it has got the backing of two more MPs.

The YSRC has 67 MLAs and had nine MPs before Reddy’s defection today.