By Arhaan Faraaz | Hyderabad
The Congress in Andhra Pradesh is bracing for an exodus of over 45 MLAs, including at least half-a-dozen ministers, and scores of district-level leaders in the new year. Most of them are likely to join the YSR Congress Party of Y S Jaganmohan Reddy while some may join the Telugu Desam Party (TDP).
Facing an anti-Congress sentiment in Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema districts due to bifurcation of the state even as Assembly elections are set to be held next year along with the Lok Sabha polls, many MLAs fear that even if they are re-nominated by the Congress, they may lose the polls.
Party sources said the MLAs indicated their intentions to Andhra PCC chief Botsa Satyanarayana before the Telangana Bill was tabled in the Assembly earlier this month.
"Not only MLAs, many ministers are also worried. They feel that it may be the end of the road for them if they remain with the Congress, primarily due to the anti-Congress sentiment that has spread through Seemandhra. Many of them are also under pressure from their supporters whose numbers are shrinking by the day,'' said the PCC chief.
He said at least 20 other MLAs, including two ministers, who are confident of winning, may also quit the party because they are opposed to bifurcation of the state.
Congress sources said the MLAs have also been emboldened by the stand taken by Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy, and may go with him if he decides to launch his own party. Three ministers who are known to be close to him are reportedly urging him to float a party.
With the CM not taking much interest in party affairs, and the PCC chief himself facing opposition in his home district of Vizianagaram, no efforts are being made to stop the MLAs from leaving the party.
Quoting internal reports, a Congress leader said MLAs from Visakhapatnam, Srikakulam, Guntur, East and West Godavari districts are set to join the YSRCP. But YSRCP sources said Jaganmohan is not keen on allowing Congress or TDP MLAs who face anti-incumbency to join his party.
Some Congress MLAs have already joined either the YSRCP or TDP, including P Rajanna Dora from Salur in Vizianagaram, Mopidevi Venkataramana Rao from Repalle in Guntur, K Venkatrami Reddy from Dharmavaram, and Sudhir Reddy from L B Nagar in Hyderabad.