In what comes as a setback to Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naiduâ€™s Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in Rayalaseema, former Hindupur MLA Abdul Gani joined Jagan Mohan Reddy's YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) on Saturday.
This comes just after former TDP leader and former Pileru MLA Iqbal Ahmed also defected to the YSRCP. Abdul Gani joined YSRCP in the presence of Jagan, who is presently on his Praja Sankalpa Yatra. Abdul Gani alleged that Chandrababu Naidu hasn't done anything for minorities, and accused the party of not giving enough him respect despite his service to the party and him sacrificing the seat. Abdul Gani was the sitting MLA before actor Nandamuri Balakrishna, the current MLA.
While that may have irked the TDP, Abdul Ganiâ€™s defection is attracting attention as it is a jolt to Balakrishna, who hails from the TDP family. Gani was said to be a close aide of Balakrishna, and the defection is seen as something that could potentially hurt the chances of the latter. The Hindupur seat has traditionally been a stronghold of the TDP, and been held by the party since 1985. Even during the 1989 Assembly elections in the state when the Congress swept the polls, the TDP managed to hold on to Hindupur.
With less than six months to go Assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh, the defections are causing ripples in political circles.
Earlier this week, former minister and TDP MLA from Prathipadu, Ravela Kishore Babu joined Pawan Kalyan's Jana Sena Party, and alleged that there was caste discrimination in the ruling TDP. He belongs to the Dalit (Madiga) community and was elected from Prathipadu assembly constituency in the 2014 Assembly Elections. He went on to become the Social Welfare Minister in Chandrababu's cabinet. He alleged that he has been humiliated several times by the partyâ€™s local cadres for being a Dalit.
However, political observers point out that the defections are a normal affair as many of the leaders who belong to the TDP and YSRCP are unsure of getting the tickets for the upcoming elections. As many as 23 MLAs who were elected on YSRCP tickets have shifted loyalties to ruling TDP since the time the government was elected in 2014.