As many as 16 Congress MLAs backing YSR Congress leader Y S Jaganmohan Reddy cross-voted in favour of the no-confidence motion against Kiran Reddy government, which survived because of the support from Praja Rajyam Party and Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen.
On the face of it, it was a victory for the government in the wee hours of Tuesday. But in reality, the Congress on its own has been reduced to a minority in the 294-member Andhra Pradesh assembly as its numbers have fallen to 137, 11 short of the magic figure of 148.
But for the support of the 17-member Praja Rajyam Party, which continues to be a separate group inside the House despite its merger with the Congress, and the seven-member Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, the government wouldn't have survived the trial of strength.
In 2009, the Congress won 156 seats and had the support of three independent members as 'associates'. First, Y S Vijaya, widow of late Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, walked out of the Congress in November 2009.
Next, two MLAs from Telangana quit Congress and joined Telangana Rashtra Samiti after resigning from their posts. One of its associate members also deserted the ruling party last month on the Telangana issue while another died.
That brought down the Congress head count to 153. And, only one independent member remained its associate.
Now, 16 MLAs cross-voted, defying the Congress whip, in favour of the no-confidence motion. These 16 owe their allegiance to Jaganmohan Reddy and have been sailing with him for some time now.
That left the ruling party without only 137 MLAs, way short of the half-way mark. Even if the current strength of the House -- 287 -- is taken into account, the Congress will still be short of seven members as it requires 144 for a simple majority.
One Congress MLA, P Ravi from Putalapattu constituency in the Chief Minister's native Chittoor district, defied the party whip and abstained from voting and faces the threat of disqualification. The no-confidence motion was moved by Telugu Desam Party.
Given his differences with the Chief Minister, Ravi may eventually join the Jagan group, party sources indicate.
"We proved our majority in the House. We will win the elections in 2014 as well," the Chief Minister said after the DP's motion was defeated in the House.
The TDP, however, said the ruling party's euphoria would only be "temporary."
"The Congress government in AP is on death bed. It got only temporary relief on the operation bed. People of the state will take the Congress to the graveyard in 2014 elections," TDP politburo member Yanamala Ramakrishnudu said, in a strongly-worded statement on Tuesday.
"This is only a temporary and immoral victory for the Congress government," he remarked.