In a major setback to the YSR Congress Party, Kurnool MP Butta Renuka joined the ruling Telugu Desam Party on Wednesday.
Renuka and her supporters met the Chief Minister at his residence in Amaravati on Wednesday, and were welcomed into the TDP fold.
At the meeting, Renuka was flanked by state Tourism Minister Bhuma Akhila Priya, who had also earlier defected to the TDP from the YSRCP, becoming the youngest Minister in the cabinet soon after.
Renuka, a businesswoman hailing from Yemmiganur in Kurnool had planned to defect to the TDP soon after her electoral victory in 2014. However, YSRCP leaders had managed to prevail on her to continue in the party. The speculation that she may switch sides did not die down, however. And on on Wednesday, Renuka crossed the line into the TDP.
Renuka is said to be one of the richest parliamentarians in the 16th Lok Sabha. She is also the second YSRCP MP to join TDP after SPY Reddy from Nandyal.
According to reports, one of the reasons for the MP to quit the YSRCP was that she was asked to contest for the Assembly seat in Yemminganur in the upcoming elections, while the 46-year-old was keen to re-contest for the post of MP.
However, YSRCP leader RK Roja rubbished reports of her being denied the chance to re-contest for the MP seat.
Addressing the media at her meeting with CM Naidu, Renuka said, “I am happy to associate with the TDP for development of the state. The Chief Minister has been striving to develop the state after all the turmoil caused by the bifurcation.”
This latest defection has further hurt the already wounded YSRCP, which has seen as many 21 MLAs defecting to the ruling TDP, besides the MP from Nandyal.
Earlier, the YSRCP had petitioned the Lok Sabha Speaker to disqualify SPY Reddy under the anti-defection provisions. However, the petition has remained pending for three years. YSR Congress chief YS Jagan Mohan Reddy had also appealed to the Assembly speaker Kodela Sivaprasada Rao to disqualify the 21 MLAs who had defected to the TDP.
Addressing the Assembly in February, he had appealed to the Speaker, "You may be an MLA of the TDP, but we request you to respect the Constitution and the people's verdict."
However, no action has been taken so far against the defected MLAs.