Two more legislators of YSR Congress party on Thursday joined ruling Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in Andhra Pradesh even as leader of opposition Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy met the Chief Election Commissioner, seeking disqualification of the defectors.
Dealing a big blow to the lone opposition party, two members joined the TDP, with Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, who is also the TDP president, welcoming them into the party.
K. Sarveswara Rao, a legislator from Araku constituency in Visakhapatnam district, joined the ruling party. Former legislator G. Babji and dozens of other local public representatives of YSRCP also switched loyalties at a programme held in Araku, where Naidu himself was present along with some of his cabinet colleagues from the district.
Earlier in the day, B. Rajasekhar Reddy, a legislator from Srisailam in Kurnool district, joined TDP in Vijayawada.
With this the number of YSRCP legislators who defected to TDP has gone up to 16. Three MLAs have switched loyalties in two days.
YSRCP's strength in 176-member assembly has come down from 67 to 51.
The defection continued even as Jagan continued to camp in Delhi to mobilize support for his 'save democracy' campaign. He met central ministers and leaders of various parties and accused Naidu of buying each legislator for Rs.20 crore to Rs.30 crore. He claimed that Naidu is using ill-gotten money to buy MLAs.
Jagan called on Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi on Thursday, demanding that all the legislators who defected to TDP be disqualified.
The leader of opposition alleged that Speaker Kodela Sivaprasad Rao was not disqualifying the MLAs despite repeated petitions by the party.
Jagan said he would also launch legal battle for disqualification of the MLAs.
TDP leaders on Thursday hit back at Jagan for the allegations that Naidu is involved in many scams. Finance Minister Y. Ramakrishnudu wanted to know why Jagan was silent when his father Y. S. Rajasekhar Reddy engineered defection in opposition parties through his operation 'Akarsh'.
The TDP, which is a partner in BJP-led NDA central government, downplayed the booklet released by him in Delhi about scams allegedly involving TDP chief. In the booklet titled 'Emperor of Corruption', Jagan alleged corruption deals to the tune of Rs.1.34 lakh crore in the two-year rule of Naidu.
Naidu's son N. Lokesh challenged Jagan to prove the allegations, while TDP spokesperson P. Anuradha found fault with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley for giving appointments to Jagan.
"How could you give appointment to a person against him 12 charge sheets have been filed and who spent 16 months in jail," asked Anuradha.