Coming as a major shocker for N Chandrababu Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party (TDP), four of its Rajya Sabha MPs defected to Bharatiya Janata Party on June 20. This development gives a sense of the political atmosphere in the country signifying the ruling party’s current agenda on plate – defections – as BJP leaders have been hinting at forthcoming defections across states since they came back to power for a second term.
In the past one month, BJP leaders from several states including Telangana, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh have claimed that numerous elected representatives from other political parties will join the BJP.
Four of six TDP MPs in the upper house of the parliament had submitted a resolution to Vice President Venkaiah Naidu stating “to merge the legislature party of the TDP with BJP with immediate effect under Paragraph 4 of the tenth schedule of the constitution of India.” The MPs are Y Satyanarayana Chowdary, C M Ramesh, T G Venkatesh and Garikapati Mohan Rao. Two of these MPs, Chowdary and Ramesh are currently under the scanner of central investigation agencies including Income Tax, Central Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement Directorate.
Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati ridiculed the development as “BJP brand of politics”.
She tweeted: “Yesterday when the President was giving assurances to the country on behalf of the government, the BJP on the same day engineered defection of four TDP MPs.”
By proposing merger of the party, the MPs simply tried avoiding any chances of disqualification under anti-defection law, says Telakapalli Ravi, Hyderabad based political analyst. “In order to increase its presence in Telugu states, BJP is apparently not hesitant in its opportunistic politics of poaching elected members of other parties,” he said.
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Naidu, who is currently holidaying in Europe responded on the development in a series of tweets on Thursday. “All my life, I have strived for the good of people and will continue to do so regardless of being in power or not. TDP MPs joining BJP today is the result of my fight for AP's rights. They had their own personal agendas to address,” Naidu tweeted. “We have lakhs of karyakartas and crores of Telugu people behind us. History will repeat itself. There is nothing to worry. TDP will be back,” added Naidu.
Ravi, however says that the TDP leaders have softened their tone against BJP after the saffron party is re-elected. “TDP appears to be not refuting BJP like they did during elections,” he added.
The decimation of TDP and dominant caste politics in the state have paved the way for such a development, says Gutta Rohith, activist with Human Rights Forum. “This was bound to happen sooner or later. This is precisely the problem with the complete decimation of a lumpen bourgeois party. Such decimation paves way for the BJP to take over. The castes that have been traditionally enjoying the power will join BJP now that their representative is more or less lying dormant,” Rohith told NewsClick.
Pending Cases Against MPs Chowdary and Ramesh
Several TDP leaders alleged that the MPs shifted loyalties to save themselves from several cases under investigation by central agencies.
Incidentally, in November last year, BJP MP and spokesperson G V L Narasimha Rao termed Chowdary and Ramesh as “Andhra Mallyas” and sought the Rajya Sabha to take suitable action for their alleged involvement in “financial scandals”.
Chowdary was the Minister of State for Science and Technology & Earth Sciences in Modi 1.0 government for about three years until the TDP walked out from NDA alliance in 2018, and is facing charges in three cases under probe by CBI. As per the allegations, an electrical equipment manufacturer company, Best and Crompton Engineering Projects Limited (BCEPL), linked to Chowdary, fraudulently obtained loans of over Rs 360 crore from a consortium of banks and then defaulted. Based on the CBI charges, ED has initiated a money laundering case and attached Chowdary’s property worth Rs 315 crore.
An Income Tax probe last year had found suspicious transactions to the tune of about Rs 100 crore in a company, Rithwik Projects Pvt Ltd (RPPL) associated with Ramesh.
Also read: How Andhra Fared in Crucial Sectors Under TDP?