The Opposition TDP in Andhra Pradesh sprang a surprise by fielding its candidate in one of the seven MLC seats under the MLA quota.
The TDP’s deft move has caught the ruling YSRCP unawares. The Chief Minister, YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, himself cautioned the ministers against being complacent after a Cabinet meeting in Amaravati on Tuesday, 14 March.
The YSRCP was expecting a cakewalk in all seven seats when the TDP threw down the gauntlet.
Jagan asked the ministers to take up the responsibility of ensuring that all YSRCP MLAs voted for the party’s candidates.
With the numbers in its favour, the ruling YSRCP can comfortably win six seats, and the contest for the seventh seat will be keenly watched.
The TDP fielding its MLC candidate at the last minute has necessitated polling, which will be held on 23 March.
Also read: Impact of TDP-JSP alliance in Godavari districts
All eyes on rebel MLAs
The polling will be interesting with two YSRCP MLAs raising a banner of revolt and at least four TDP legislators cosying up to the ruling party.
The YSRCP-backed candidates — Marri Rajasekhar, VV Suryanarayana Raju Penumatsa, P Sunitha, Kola Guruvulu, B Israel, Jayamangala Venkataramana and Ch Yesuratnam — filed their nomination papers on 9 March.
A backward community leader and former mayor of Vijayawada, Panchumarthi Anuradha, is the TDP candidate.
Panchumarthi Anuradha filed her papers on TDP B form two days ago.
YSRCP won 151 and TDP 23 seats, respectively, in the 2019 Assembly polls. After the general elections, at least four TDP MLAs crossed floors, reducing the TDP’s strength in the Assembly to 19.
MLAs Vallabhaneni Vamsi from Gannavaram, Karanam Balaram from Chirala, Vasupalli Ganesh Kumar from Vizag South, and Maddali Giridhar from Guntur West had “unofficially” defected to YSRCP and have been staying away from TDP-sponsored programmes.
However, TDP has not suspended them from the party or sought their disqualification. The lone Jana Sena MLA Rapaka Vara Prasad is also supporting the YSRCP.
Also read: Jagan caught between Kapus and OBCs
The magic number: 22
Each candidate needs 22 MLA votes to win. For the victory of all seven MLCs, YSRCP needs the support of 154 MLAs. However, the party is not sure which way rebel MLAs, Kotamreddy Sreedhar Reddy and Anam Ramanarayana Reddy will go.
If the rebels decide to vote against the ruling party, TDP may get two additional votes, but will still fall short of one MLA vote.
It is learnt that TDP may issue a whip to its MLAs. If anyone violates the whip, the party would formally complain to the authorities concerned.
“I will vote as per my conscience in the MLC polls. I also request my fellow YSRCP MLAs to vote as per their conscience,” Kotamreddy Sridhar Reddy, YSRCP rebel MLA from Nellore rural, said on Wednesday, 15 March.