The decision of four TDP Rajya Sabha MPs to join BJP has made the road ahead an arduous one for the regional party. Former union minister YS Chowdary, CM Ramesh, TG Venkatesh and Garikapati Mohan Rao announced a merger with BJP in Rajya Sabha.
Speculation is rife that many MLAs and former MLAs may follow suit. TDP has 23 MLAs and it might be very difficult for Naidu to keep his flock together.
If two-thirds of the MLAs of the TD Legislature Party ask the Speaker to merge them with another party or consider them as a separate group, they will escape disqualification under the Anti-Defection Law.
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As per Assembly norms, a party should have 10 per cent of the House strength to enjoy Opposition status. In the 175-member AP Assembly, a party should have at least 18 MLAs to be an Opposition party. If six MLAs leave the TD, it will lose its Opposition status. The BJP is trying to poach at least 16, or two-thirds of the 23 TD MLAs.
According to sources in the BJP, the possible defectors will take a cue from the four MPs who defected to the BJP.
In order to escape disqualification, four of the six TD MPs, or two-thirds of the party in the Upper House, asked the deputy chairman of the Rajya Sabha to merge them into the BJP under the 4th paragraph of the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution.
“At this point I can’t say how many TD MLAs are joining us. But I am sure a majority of the TD MLAs are in touch with our leadership,” said BJP state vice-president S. Vishnuvardhan Reddy.