It’s defection season in Telugu states as YSRCP, BRS MPs jump to other parties

Five Lok Sabha MPs from the YSRCP and three from the Bharat Rashtra Samithi quit their respective parties in the last two months.
YSRCP chief Jagan and BRS working president KTR
YSRCP chief Jagan and BRS working president KTR
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February witnessed five Members of Parliament (MPs) from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana defecting from one party to another ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, which is scheduled for May 2024. While MPs from Andhra Pradesh’s ruling Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party (YSRCP) quit in favour of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP)-Jana Sena alliance, two MPs from the opposition led Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) in Telangana quit and defected to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). One MP from the BRS joined the Congress. 

K Laxman, Rajya Sabha BJP MP from Telangana, told the local media on February 28 that several BRS leaders have expressed keen interest in joining the BJP. A day later, BRS Lok Sabha MP from Telangana’s Nagarkurnool (SC) constituency, Pothuganti Ramulu, joined the BJP in New Delhi. The leader said he joined the BJP because of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s assurance towards SC sub-categorisation. 

Modi, while addressing a public meeting in November 2023 ahead of the Telangana Assembly polls, had said that the BJP was committed to the sub-categorisation of SCs and will ensure there are no legal hurdles in the way. 

BRS’ Zaheerabad (SC constituency) MP BB Patil, a two-time parliamentarian who joined the BJP at the party headquarters in New Delhi on March 1, said he moved to the BJP only for the sake of developing his constituency and Telangana as a whole. He also praised the Modi government for the Ram temple construction, the repeal of Article 370, banning the practice of triple talaq, and giving free Covid vaccines.

BRS MP from Peddapalli, Venkatesh Netha Borlakunta, joined the Congress party on February 6. “I was impressed by the six guarantees being implemented by the Revanth Reddy government. Hence, I decided to quit the BRS to join the Congress,” said Netha, who is a first-time Lok Sabha MP. 

In Andhra, Ongole MP Magunta Sreenivasulu Reddy left the YSRCP, led by Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, on February 24 citing that he had to do so to “preserve his self-respect.” Sreenivasulu and his son Magunta Raghava Reddy are both accused-turned-approvers in the Enforcement Directorate investigation into the Delhi liquor scam. The YSRCP high command had decided that Sreenivasulu should contest as an MLA from the Giddalur Assembly seat. Srinivasulu was allegedly slighted by this, and decided to quit the party. Several local reports have speculated that Sreenivasulu and Raghava will be joining the TDP shortly, as Raghava has apparently been assured of the TDP ticket for the Ongole Parliament seat.

Narasapuram Lok Sabha member K Raghu Ramakrishna Raju resigned from the YSRCP on February 24. In a letter addressed to CM Jagan, Raju said it was time for both the party and him to free themselves from an uncomfortable association. “I hereby tender my resignation for the primary active membership of YSRCP Party and expect you (Reddy) to accept the same with a prompt reply or response at your earliest convenience,” said Raju in his resignation letter.

Notably, in January 2022, the YSRCP had submitted a petition to the Lok Sabha Privileges Committee under the anti-defection law against Raghu Rama Krishna Raju, as he had rebelled against the YSRCP and was tipped to join the BJP. The YSRCP had asked that Raju be removed from the house under the anti-defection law. 

Nellore MP Vemireddy Prabhakar Reddy resigned from the YSRCP and as a member of the Rajya Sabha on February 21, citing ‘personal reasons’.

Narasaraopet Lok Sabha MP Lavu Sri Krishnadevaraya also tendered his resignation from both his parliamentary post and the YSRCP on January 23. Addressing the media, MP Sri Krishnadevaraya said, "For the past few weeks there was confusion on the candidate for the Narasaraopet seat. I want to end this and hence decided to quit the party. I am also resigning from my Lok Sabha membership.” Several local reports have identified Krishnadevaraya as the next MP to join the TDP-Jana Sena alliance.

Machilipatnam Lok Sabha MP Vallabhaneni Balashowry also quit the YSRCP on January 14 and announced his decision to join the Pawan Kalyan-led Jana Sena. It is said that Balashowry’s disagreements with local YSRCP MLA Perni Nani and other party leaders in Machilipatnam led to the decision. 

Announcing that the YSRCP was sidelining Other Backward Classes (OBCs), Kurnool MP Sanjeev Kumar also left the YSRCP fold on January 10. Addressing the media in Vijayawada after quitting the party, Kumar said backward class leaders were not being prioritised in the party.

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