On June 27, five senior leaders from Congress and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in Telangana have joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), boosting the saffron party’s desperation to gain stronghold in South India. This comes at a time when four TDP Rajya Sabha MPs from Telugu states have recently joined BJP.
The five include former TDP MLAs E Peddi Reddy and Boda Janardhan, former TDP MP Chada Suresh Reddy, former Congress MLA Shashidhar Reddy and Congress leader Sheik Rahmatullah.
Two more MLAs, Congress MLA Komatireddy Rajgopal Reddy and TDP MLA Mecha Nageshwar Rao, also are expected to join the BJP, as per local media sources.
Lawmakers crossing over parties is not a new phenomenon in Telangana under CM K Chandrasekhar Rao regime. Earlier in June, 12 Congress MLAs of total 18 (the party’s total strength in Assembly) joined TRS.
While TRS won in 63 out of total 119 seats in the 2014 elections, its strength increased to over 90 through defections from Congress, TDP and YSRCP by the time the state went to Assembly polls in December 2018. Also, during its initial years, the TRS party focussed on inducting senior leaders from rival parties deepening its mass base in regions where it was weak.
The BJP, after its re-election at the Centre, has been focusing to make its presence dominant in Telangana and it seems to follow the footsteps of TRS when it comes to inducting senior leaders from other parties.
“BJP has definitely made it to the South. Never before, BJP has become a force in Telugu States,” says K Vijaya Bhaskara Reddy, Hyderabad-based senior journalist. He added that the BJP appears to be focused to reckon in both the Telugu states. “Even small leaders from Telangana and Andhra Pradesh are being welcomed by the BJP national president himself. It shows their effort levels,” Bhaskara Reddy told Newsclick.
Considering the hopelessness within the Congress party and TDP among opposition parties, BJP is apparently focussing to take over the Congress in Telangana and TDP in Andhra Pradesh, to become number two by next elections, predicts Vijaya Bhaskar Reddy.
The BJP won in four out of seventeen Lok Sabha constituencies in the May 2019 elections increasing its strength from one MP seat in 2014.