‘Reserving tickets’ before switching loyalties

Hyderabad, May 31 (IANS) Elections to parliament and the Andhra Pradesh assembly may be scheduled for 2014 but politicians in the state have already started switching loyalties to get tickets from constituencies of their choice.

The YSR Congress party and the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) are leading the parties in poaching MPs and legislators with such offers.

Two Lok Sabha members belonging to the Congress Thursday announced their decision to join the TRS, which has promised to give them

tickets for the seats they are currently representing.

G. Vivek and Manda Jagannatham have managed to “reserve” seats from Pedappali and Nagarkurnool constituencies respectively. Vivek, son of senior Congress leader and former union minister G. Venkat Swamy, was first elected from Peddapalli in 2009.

Jagannatham is eyeing a fourth consecutive term from Nagarkurnool. After representing the constituency for two terms in a row as a member of Telugu Desam Party (TDP), he switched loyalties to the Congress in 2009.

Vivek, an industrialist, has reportedly managed to extract a promise from the TRS that his elder brother G. Vinod would be fielded in assembly elections while Jagannatham is trying to get an assembly ticket for his son.

Senior Congress leader K. Keshava Rao has also decided to join the TRS. He has been reportedly promised a Lok Sabha ticket from the Zaheerabad constituency. He is also holding talks with TRS leaders for an assembly ticket for his son.

Another senior TDP leader in Telangana and former minister, Kadiyam Srihari, quit the party this month to join the TRS after he was reportedly promised a TRS ticket for the Warangal Lok Sabha seat. It was this promise that made sitting Congress MP S. Rajaiah reconsider his plans to join the TRS.

The sub-regional party, spearheading the movement for a separate Telangana state, has also managed to attract some other TDP and Congress leaders with the promise of fielding them in the assembly elections.

It is for the Mahabubnagar Lok Sabha constituency that former state minister N. Janardhana Reddy has agreed to merge his Telangana Nagara Samithi with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the first week of June.

The former minister was suspended from the TDP in 2011 for criticising the party leadership over Telangana. He quit as an MLA and was re-elected in the by-elections last year with support from pro-Telangana parties.

However, it was the YSR Congress that began this trend of wooing defectors with tickets. Since the party was floated by Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy in 2011, 30 legislators from both the Congress and the TDP and a MP from the Congress joined the outfit.

Sixteen of them were re-elected in the by-elections while others joined the party during the last one year despite the young leader remaining in jail in disproportionate assets cases.

Senior leaders like M.V. Mysoora Reddy and more recently D. Veerabhadra Rao quit the TDP to join the YSR Congress after they were reportedly promised tickets.

Hoping to ride on the Telangana wave, the TRS has set a target of 100 of 117 assembly seats in Telangana and 16 of 17 Lok Sabha seats in the region.

Leaders of the Congress and the YSR Congress are confident of a sweep, especially in the Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra regions.

The state sends 42 MPs to the Lok Sabha while the state legislative assembly has 295 members (including one nominated).

(Mohammed Shafeeq can be contacted at [email protected])

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