To lawmakers wishing to cross over, Jagan Reddy presents a challenge

Setting a new precedent, YSR Congress party president and Andhra Pradesh chief minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy on Thursday announced that he would neither engineer nor encourage defection of any lawmaker from the opposition into his party.

“If any MLA from the opposition party wishes to join our party, he or she has to resign from the assembly membership first. If the lawmaker doesn’t want to quit the MLA post, the Speaker can straightaway disqualify him or her,” Jagan Reddy said in the assembly while congratulating the newly elected Speaker Tammineni Sitaram.

The YSRCP president said he did not want to make the same mistake committed by his predecessor and Telugu Desam Party president N Chandrababu Naidu, who had admitted 23 MLAs and three MPs from the YSRCP in the last term without making them quit their posts.

“While I was entering the assembly, some of our party MLAs suggested that if I could attract five TDP MLAs into the YSRCP. This would ensure that Naidu loses the Leader of Opposition status. But I told them that if I do it, there would be no difference between me and Naidu,” Jagan said. “I want Naidu to be the leader of opposition, as I strongly believe the presence of opposition is essential in a democracy,” added Jagan.

The chief minister recalled how Naidu had allegedly purchased 23 MLAs and three MPs of YSRCP like cattle. “He even gave cabinet berths to four of the MLAs defected from our party, thereby giving a complete go bye to democratic spirit. But the god has punished him and the people gave him a fitting lesson – the TDP could win only three MPs and 23 MLAs which is equal to the number of defectors from the YSRCP. And the coincidence is that the verdict came on May 23,” he pointed out.

Reacting to Jagan’s remarks, Naidu said it was unfortunate that the leader of the House had chosen to attack the opposition on the very first day of the assembly. “Defections were not new in politics. In fact, his father Y S Rajasekhara Reddy himself had defected from Reddy Congress to Indira Congress in 1978,” he pointed out.

However, Jagan shot back saying Naidu’s comment was like a killer defending himself citing murders in the past.

After the assembly session, Speaker Tammineni Sitaram told reporters that he would implement the anti-defection Law in letter and spirit. “Any legislator who was intending to switch party should first resign from his post and re-approach the electorate. If the lawmaker does not want to resign from the assembly membership while shifting loyalties to the other party, he would be automatically disqualified,” Sitaram asserted.

First Published:
Jun 13, 2019 21:18 IST

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