In a setback to Jaganmohan Reddy-led YSR Congress, four MLAs and one MLC of the only Opposition party in Andhra Pradesh today defected to the ruling Telugu Desam and claimed more will follow suit.
The four YSRC MLAs -- Bhuma Nagi Reddy (Nandyal), his daughter Akhila Priya ((Allagadda), Adinarayana Reddy (Jammalamadugu) and Jaleel Khan (Vijayawada West) -- joined the TDP at the riverfront residence of party president and Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu.
The lawmakers said they have joined the TDP for development of their respective (Assembly) constituencies and also the state.
"We joined the Telugu Desam for development of not only our respective (Assembly) constituencies but also the state," the four MLAs said in unison here late tonight.
Naidu welcomed the YSRC rebels into the party fold by adorning them with yellow scarves.
YSRC MLC and elder brother of Adinarayana, Narayana Reddy, also joined the ruling party along with the MLAs.
"Only Chandrababu can steer the state on the path of development. This is not just our belief but also that of our constituents and people of the state. We are hence joining hands with him.
"We have full faith in Chandrababu's leadership and his capacity to develop the state. We will strengthen his hands," the MLAs said.
Bhuma denied he returned to the TDP for a Cabinet berth.
"I would not have been in the Opposition for 20 years now if I ever wanted to become a minister. It is only for the sake of development that I returned to the TDP," he said.
Bhuma ruled out resigning from his post because of the defection, saying his prime objective was development of Nandyal.
"There has been no development in my constituency in the last 20 years as I was in the Opposition," he said.
Asked about the opposition from within the TDP to his return, Bhuma said his entry would only strengthen the party.
"We all shall work together and strive for development," he said.
Adinarayana, who too faced stiff opposition to his entry from his rival Ramasubba Reddy, said he was ready to bury the hatchet and work with all.
"Yes, we were involved in faction feud for long but times have changed," Adinarayana, a three-time MLA, remarked.
Asked how many more lawmakers of the Jagan-led outfit were ready to jump sides, the defectors Bhuma and Adinarayana said, "This is the first rebellion. Many more will follow suit but it is not good to reveal the numbers at this point.