Andhra CM Jagan Mohan Reddy
Andhra CM Jagan Mohan Reddy

YSRCP sees flurry of exits after CM Jagan drops sitting MLAs, MPs from candidates list

Machilipatnam MP Balasouri Vallabhaneni on Saturday, January 13, resigned from the party amid indications that he might be dropped.

The YSR Congress Party's strategy to drop several sitting MLAs and MPs in Andhra Pradesh for the forthcoming polls has triggered a spate of resignations. Machilipatnam MP Balasouri Vallabhaneni on Saturday, January 13, resigned from the party amid indications that he might be dropped. Balasouri is likely to join the Jana Sena Party (JSP) led by actor-politician Pawan Kalyan. This is the latest resignation to hit the Jagan Mohan Reddy-led party ahead of the simultaneous polls to the state Assembly and the Lok Sabha, likely to be held in April-May.

On January 10, Kurnool MP S Sanjeev Kumar resigned from the party. The general surgeon and urologist resigned both as MP and also from the primary membership of YSRCP. This followed the party’s decision to field sitting MLA and state minister Gummanur Jayaram as the party candidate from the Kurnool Parliament seat. The MP, who remained low profile throughout his stint, alleged that there is no respect for backward classes in the party. He is likely to join the Telugu Desam Party (TDP).

Two MLAs have also quit the ruling party over the denial of tickets. Last week, Rayadurgam MLA Kapu Ramchandra Reddy resigned from YSRCP. He alleged that the party leadership betrayed him despite his loyalty to the party.

Alla Ramakrishna Reddy was the first YSRCP MLA to quit the party. The MLA from Mangalagiri has declared his support to YS Sharmila, who recently merged her YSR Telangana Party (YSRTP) with the Congress. Sharmila, the sister of Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy, will likely get a key position in the party. 

A couple of MLCs have also quit YSRCP in the last few days. While MLC and senior leader C Ramachandraiah joined the TDP, another MLC Srinivas Varma joined the Jana Sena. Earlier, cricketer Ambati Rayudu resigned from YSRCP 10 days after joining it. The cricketer said that he resigned from the YSRCP as their ideologies were not aligned. Rayudu met Pawan Kalyan on January 11. He claimed that he and Pawan Kalyan share the same ideologies and vision, hinting that he may join Jana Sena.

The spate of resignations has come as a blow to the YSRCP. However, these were not unexpected considering the change of tactic by the YSRCP. The party, which has 151 MLAs in the 175-member Assembly, has so far released three lists for Assembly polls. It has announced candidates for 59 seats and has denied tickets to as many as 23 sitting MLAs.

The ruling party was earlier planning to go for elections with a majority of the sitting MPs and MLAs. Political analysts say the defeat of Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) in the recent Assembly elections in neighbouring Telangana forced the YSRCP to reconsider its strategy. 

Like YSRCP, BRS too had an overwhelming majority in the 119-member Telangana Assembly. Aiming for a third term in power, BRS had renominated almost all sitting MLAs in the recent Assembly elections. However, 65 out of its 104 sitting MLAs were defeated. Analysts say unlike BRS, YSRCP may not be facing voter fatigue but still it does not want to take any chances. It is not only dropping the sitting MLAs and MPs but also fielding some sitting MPs in Assembly elections and shifting some MLAs to Lok Sabha constituencies.

The revolt in the YSRCP camp in some constituencies is likely to benefit the TDP-Jana Sena alliance. A few legislators have already defected to either TDP-JSP. The revolt may also benefit the Congress, which is hoping for a reversal of its political fortunes in the state following the victories in Karnataka and Telangana. The joining of YS Sharmila into the party has infused optimism among the Congress ranks. However, it is yet to announce any party position for Sharmila.

If she is appointed president of the Congress' state unit, the party may attract a section of the disgruntled leaders from YSRCP. As most of the leaders in YSRCP were earlier part of the Congress, they may throw their weight behind Sharmila. Congress leaders believe that this may at least place the party on the recovery path after drawing a blank in two successive elections. With the party’s vote share dropping to less than 2%, it is facing a huge challenge to bounce back.

“If the Congress party succeeds in having some representation in the Assembly and improves its vote share to 10-12, it will be a significant improvement,” says political analyst Palwai Raghavendra Reddy.

YSRCP is not the only party facing dissidence over the denial of tickets to sitting MLAs and MPs. The TDP also faced the same situation in the Vijayawada Lok Sabha constituency, where the sitting MP Kesneni Srinivas alias Nani quit the party and crossed over to YSRCP after the party leadership hinted that it plans to give the ticket to his brother Kesineni Srinath alias Chinni this time. Nani, who was elected to Lok Sabha on TDP ticket in 2014 and 2019, defected to YSRCP and Jagan Mohan Reddy swiftly rewarded him with a party ticket from the same constituency.

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