The Telugu Desam Party on Friday suspended four of its 'rebel' members of Legislative Assembly from the party with immediate effect for defying it and voting in the Presidential election on Thursday.
MLAs Chinnam Ramakotaiah (Nuzivid), Y Balanagi Reddy (Mantralayam), K Harishwar Reddy (Parigi), S Venugopalachary (Mudhole) and Kodali Srivenkateswara Rao alias Nani (Gudivada) exercised their franchise in the Presidential election on Thursday though the TDP decided to abstain from the poll.
Nani had already been suspended from the party a few days ago, after he met YSR Congress honorary president Y S Vijaya. His joining the YSRC is now seen as a mere formality.
Balanagi Reddy had also been moving with Kadapa Member of Parliament Y S Jaganmohan Reddy for many months now. Ramakotaiah was seen in the company of Congress MLAs on Thursday, leaving enough hints that he was ready to crossover.
He had been speaking against the party and its leadership for some time now and was expected to switch sides anytime. Initially he thought of joining the YSRC bandwagon, but with no positive signals from that side, Ramakotaiah apparently started efforts to get into the ruling party.
Harishwar Reddy and Venugopalachary have distanced themselves from the TDP several months ago criticising its ambivalent stand on the Telangana statehood issue. They were, however, technically continuing as TDP MLAs.
Given the facts, these MLAs violating the party line in the Presidential elections, did not cause any surprise, though it left the TDP leadership exasperated.
TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu discussed the issue with his senior colleagues today and decided to crack the whip immediately as it was 'already late'.
Accordingly, a one-line statement was issued by the party late in the evening saying the four MLAs have been suspended with immediate effect. With its latest action, the TDP's effective strength in the 294-member AP Assembly gets reduced to 81.