Naidu emerges as flavour of the season

A joke doing rounds in political circles here is that the "NTR Trust Bhavan", the headquarters of the main opposition Telugu Desam Party, is increasingly looking like "Gandhi Bhavan", the state Congress headquarters, with a daily flow of defectors from the ruling party.

This sums up the changing political dynamics in the wake of bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh. For the last couple of weeks, there has been a steady stream of Congress MLAs, former ministers and other senior leaders from Seemandhra region joining TDP ahead of elections.

With Congress facing a certain rout in the region in the simultaneous elections to Assembly and Lok Sabha due to public anger over division of the state, all senior legislators are queuing up before TDP, headed by N Chadrababu Naidu, to secure their political future.

Clearly, Naidu, who was the Chief Minister between 1995 and 2004, has emerged as the flavour of the season as far as Seemandhra politicians are concerned. With polling in the region less than seven weeks away, there has been a heavy influx of congress leaders into the TDP.

Moreover, Naidu is expected to announce alliance with BJP later this week in what is seen as a strategic move to consolidate his party's position in Seemandhra and also to play a key role in national politics after elections.
Nearly three dozen senior Congress leaders, from across the 13 districts of Seemandhra, have switched their loyalty. They include three former Ministers in the Kiran Kumar Reddy cabinet, TG Venkatesh, E Pratap Reddy and G Aruna Kumari, former Deputy Speaker G Kuthuhalamma and scores of legislators. A five-time MP and Union Minister K Sambasiva Rao and another veteran legislator JC Diwakar Reddy are set to cross over to the TDP.
There is a growing perception that Naidu, with his administrative experience, is the best bet to develop the new state of residuary Andhra Pradesh and the capital city. His imminent tie-up with the BJP and the widespread expectation that NDA would come to power at the Centre have added momentum to the party's rise in Seemandhra which accounts for 25 out of the total 42 Lok Sabha seats in AP and 175 seats in the 294-member Assembly.
Seen as a dominant player in the region, YSR Congress Party, headed by Kadapa MP YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, appears to have put up a "no vacancy" board for the potential defectors from Congress.
The TDP sources said that many more leaders were expected to join the party in the days ahead. However, the heavy influx of leaders is also creating problems for seniors in the party who are aspiring for tickets for the coming elections. 


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