The protest programme began on Saturday with opposition leader YS Jaganmohan Reddy meeting with Governor ESL Narasimhan at the Raj Bhavan. The party lodged a complaint with the Governor against Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, accusing him of engineering defections.
On the other side, another YSRCP MLA Attar Chand Basha (Kadiri) today joined the Telugu Desam Party. CM Naidu admitted Basha into the TDP at his camp office in Vijayawada. With this latest defection, the number of MLAs, who deserted Jagan to join TDP rose to 13.
Emerging from the Raj Bhavan, Jagan said he had explained to the Governor how CM Naidu had been offering defectors money collected from the contractors of the Pattiseema project and the sand mafia. He alleged that Naidu was buying MLAs like 'cattle in village fairs' by offering about ₹20 crore to ₹30 crore to each YSRCP MLA.
"We have brought the unethical practices of Chandrababu Naidu to the notice of the Governor. We have sought the Governor's intervention in stopping the defections. The Chief Minister and the Speaker have colluded to save the MLAs from being disqualified under the provisions of the anti-defection law" he said.
"The desertion of 12 or 13 MLAs won't change the status of YSR Congress. Still, we urged the Governor to ensure that defectors resigned from YSRCP and sought a fresh mandate," Jagan added.
In the past two days, the TDP has launched a new campaign alleging that the YSRCP will face a split soon and Jaganmohan Reddy will lose his 'leader of opposition' status. The campaign, started by the State Finance Minister Yanamala Ramakrishnudu, is being carried forward by other ministers. They are predicting a possible ousting of Jagan as the leader of the opposition. TDP leaders claim that more than 20 MLAs have been in touch them and they would join TDP at an appropriate time.
Adding to the list, Addanki YSRCP MLA Gottipati Ravikumar is said to have decided to quit the party as well. He has reportedly discussed his plan with followers in Santamaguluru village. According to sources, Ravikumar is expected to join TDP on April 29. Ravikumar hails from Prakasam district, which is Naidu's next target after Rayalaseema, which are strongholds of Jaganmohan Reddy.
Against this background, Jagan dared CM Naidu to seek a fresh mandate for all the defectors, claiming that the people would not support the CM's undemocratic practices. As part of the 'Save Democracy' campaign, Jagan said a candlelight vigil would be organised on Saturday night in all district headquarters.
"All MLAs and MPs will meet President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief of Election Commission and other leaders of national parties. We are going to New Delhi on Monday," Jagan said, adding that he had sought an audience with the President and the PM.
Interestingly, this seems to be an issue that affects both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. As Team Asianet Newsable reported earlier, there is a discernible pattern of defection ever since the bifurcation of Andhra and Telangana.
For example, in the recent months, 12 of the 15 Telugu Desam Party (TDP) MLAs in Telangana switched over to the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS). Readers can catch up on our complete report on this trend here.
Last Updated 31, Mar 2018, 6:43 PM IST