YSRCP eyes all three Rajya Sabha seats in Andhra; in a first, TDP may have no RS MP

While the YSRCP is poised to win all three seats, the rival TDP is planning to rely on cross-voting from dissidents within the YSRCP.

ByBhaskar Basava

Published Jan 30, 2024 | 4:36 PMUpdatedJan 30, 2024 | 4:36 PM

A screen grab from the parliament proceedings.

The ruling YSRCP in Andhra Pradesh is eyeing to win all three Rajya Sabha falling vacant in April in the state.

Elections to the three Rajya Sabha seats that would fall vacant in April’s first week after TDP’s Kanakamedala Ravindra Kumar, YSRCP’s Vemireddy Prabhakar Reddy, and BJP’s CM Ramesh complete their terms.

The Election Commission, on Monday, 29 January, announced that the elections to 56 Rajya Sabha seats across the country would be held on  27 February.

Andhra Pradesh has 11 members in the Upper House of Parliament. Currently, it has nine from the YSRCP, and one each from the TDP and BJP. The MLAs elect the Rajya Sabha MPs using the proportional representation method.

While the YSRCP is poised to win all three seats with a strength of 151 out of 175 in the state Assembly, the Opposition TDP has only 22 MLAs. However, the TDP thinks to field a candidate, hoping for cross-voting by YSRCP dissidents.

If the TDP doesn’t renominate or fails to win, it would be the first time since its inception in 1982 that the party would be without any representation in the Rajya Sabha. Four YSRCP MPs will complete their terms in 2026.

Also Read: Games of ‘Shivaji’, ‘Durga’, Doctor’s message and Hindutva pride: How RSS is gaining ground in Andhra Pradesh

TDP pins hope on dissidents

To win a single MP in this election, the TDP requires around 44 first-priority votes. However, the TDP has only around 22 members, yet there are reports that the party is considering fielding former Rajya Sabha contestant Varla Ramaiha, who hails from the SC community.

Former police officer and politburo member Ramaiah contested the 2020 Rajya Sabha elections but secured only 17 votes.

But this time, taking a cue from its earlier MLC election victory in the Assembly quota, the TDP is reportedly considering the same strategy. In March 2023, polling was held for seven MLC seats in the Assembly quota.

The YSRCP won six out of seven seats. Although the TDP lacked sufficient strength for a win, its candidate Panchumarthi Anuradha received 23 first-priority votes, thanks to cross-voting.

Among the TDP’s 23 MLAs, four have shifted loyalties to the YSRCP in the past four-and-a-half years.

Recently, the Speaker accepted the resignation of TDP MLA and former minister Ganta Srinivas Rao, three years after it was submitted. He had put in his papers in 2021, protesting against the planned privatisation of the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant.

Rao accused the Speaker of accepting the resignation after three years, just before the Rajya Sabha elections, for political reasons.

Additionally, with the TDP garnering the support of four MLAs from the YSRCP in the MLC elections, its current tally stands at 22.

Therefore, for the remaining votes, the TDP plans to depend on YSRCP dissidents, who are dissatisfied with the party for not renominating them for the 2024 assembly elections.

TDP sources said a minor victory for the Opposition in Parliament could be a reason for big celebration among the TDP cadre before the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections. However, he added that the party chief, N Chandrababu Naidu, would make a final call on fielding a candidate for the Rajya Sabha.

Also Read: Volunteers, secretariat, gruha saradhis: Adjacent system engaged in voter-profiling in Andhra Pradesh

YSRCP eyes all 11 seats

Meanwhile, the YSRCP is closely watching the dissidents. It has released four lists of candidates and renominated only 11 sitting MLAs, but none of them from their sitting seats. Five MLAs will contest the Lok Sabha polls.

Some of the candidates who were denied the ticket have openly criticised the party, and one of them, former Mangalagiri MLA Alla Ramakrishna Reddy, has already joined the Congress.

The YSRCP is preparing to nominate three candidates to the Rajya Sabha. According to party sources, the names of former MP and YSRCP North Andhra in-charge YV Subba Reddy, Chittoor MLA Arani Srinivasulu, and Payakaraopeta Golla Babu Rao have been finalised as Rajya Sabha candidates.

Meanwhile, on 29 January, Speaker Thammineni Seetharam sought an explanation from four rebel MLAs each from the YSRCP and TDP, on why action should not be initiated against them under the Anti-Defection Act.

The Speakers decision on the disqualification of the MLAs is expected soon, possibly on Tuesday, 30 January, or within the next two days.

Also Read: Why Andhra Congress chief Sharmila calling brother ‘Jagan Reddy’ has left YSRCP fuming

BJP, Cong to have no MPs from AP

Chintakunta Munuswamy Ramesh was a key lieutenant of TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu. He was first elected to Rajya Sabha in 2014 as a TDP candidate. He won his second Rajya Sabha term in 2018 while he was still with the TDP.

In June 2019, a month after the TDP’s defeat and amid I-T raids, Ramesh and three other TDP MPs, YS Chowdary, G Mohan Rao, and TG Venkatesh, joined the BJP.

Ramesh and the three others met the then Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu and merged the TDP with the BJP. As four out of the six MPs joined the saffron party, they circumvented the Anti-Defection laws.

However, this time, the BJP is unlikely to have any representation in the Rajya Sabha from Andhra Pradesh. The same would be the case with the Congress, another national party.