Rebels spell trouble for AP Cong in RS elections

In a major embarrassment to the ruling Congress in Andhra Pradesh, two rebel party leaders have entered the fray for the Rajya Sabha elections. This could mar the prospects of three official nominees of the party as a bitter regional divide over the proposed bifurcation of the state has cast a shadow over the biennial elections.

MLC Chaitanya Raju and MLA A Prabhakar Reddy filed their nominations on Tuesday. If they refuse to withdraw their nominations, then election will become inevitable. There are six RS seats to be filled from Andhra Pradesh, for which nine candidates have filed their nominations. Sources said Bhaskar, an Independent, might not remain in fray after scrutiny.

Both Congress rebels are from Seemandhra and strongly opposed to division of the state. The rebel camp is pinning its hopes on support from their Seemandhra colleagues. They are also hopeful of support from the 23-member YSR Congress Party, headed by Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy, who is opposed to the formation of Telangana.  In the 294-member Assembly, the Congress has 146 legislators, 97 from Seemandhra and 49 from Telangana, while nine members were disqualified for voting in favour of a no-confidence motion against the government last year.

Given its present strength, the Congress can win three seats comfortably while it is planning to allot surplus votes to the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), a potential electoral ally which has fielded its secretary general K Kesava Rao.

However, the calculations of the ruling party can go awry with the entry of the rebels. State Congress president Botsa Satyanarayana has warned of disciplinary action against legislators supporting the rebels.

Meanwhile, the main opposition Telugu Desam Party, which has 80 MLAs, fielded two candidates: T Sitarama Lakshmi and G Mohan Rao. It also faces the danger of cross-voting by supporters of senior Telangana legislator M Narasimulu, an RS ticket aspirant who has since rebelled against the party leadership for ignoring his claim.

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