It may not be an exaggeration to say that the Congress party’s fortunes have nosedived in Coastal Andhra region, if the wave of defections, are any indication.

Right from Srikakulam to Nellore, former Ministers and legislators are dropping the Congress like a hot potato unable to swallow the bitter pill that they will bite the dust, if they fight on the party ticket. Bifurcation of the State has dealt a blow to the dreams of dozens of senior Congress leaders.

The Congress has almost become an empty house in several constituencies with sitting members switching their loyalty to the TDP or YSR Congress. Among the 17 parliamentary constituencies in Coastal Andhra, not more than five or six sitting MPs may seek re-election in the coming elections.

Already five expelled MPs have bid goodbye to the party and joined Jai Samaikyandhra Party of former Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy.

Former Minister Ganta Srinivasa Rao (Visakhapatnam) has already joined the TDP and his colleagues -- Shatrucharla Vijayarama Raju (Vizianagaram) and K. Parthasarathy (Krishna) -- are said to be looking at the TDP. In West Godavari, former Minister Pithani Satyanarayana has joined the Jai Samaikyandhra Party while Vatti Vasant Kumar has announced retirement. In Prakasam district, Maheedhar Reddy is holding consultations with his aides to take a final call. He is unlikely to contest on a Congress ticket.

The loyalists

Only P. Balaraju (Visakhapatnam), Botcha Satyanarayana (Vizianagaram), Kondru Murali Mohan (Srikakulam), Thota Narasimham (East Godavari), Anam Ramanarayana Reddy (Nellore), Kasu Venkatakrishna Reddy and Dokka Manikya Varaprasad (both Guntur) have reposed faith in the Congress party. The situation is worse in some districts where Congress MLAs have already joined the TDP or the YSR Congress.

Defections, in fact, had begun a year ago when a dozen and odd MLAs had switched their loyalties to the YSR Congress. As the bifurcation appeared certain, the rate of defections picked up momentum.

As regards Lok Sabha, Killi Krupa Rani (Srikakulam), Botcha Jhansi (Vizianagaram), Kishore Chandra Deo (Araku), M. M. Pallam Raju (Kakinada), K. Bapiraju (Narsapur) and Panabaka Lakshmi (Bapatla) are likely to contest on Congress tickets. Others like Vundavalli Aruna Kumar (Rajahmundry), Sabbam Hari (Anakapalli), G.V.Harsha Kumar (Amalapuram) and Lagadapati Rajagopal (Vijayawada) joined the Jai Samaikyandhra Party.

Former Union Minister Kavuri Sambasiva Rao is said to be exploring possibility of changing party while Daggubati Purandeswari has already joined the BJP.

Rayapati Sambasiva Rao (Guntur), who was initially with Kiran Kumar Reddy has hinted at returning to the Congress. Ongole MP Magunta Srinivasulu Reddy is not likely to seek re-election on Congress ticket.

No winning candidates

Party sources say in many constituencies, Congress leaders have to look out for new candidates.

In private senior leaders lament that it is next to impossible to choose candidates with winning chances as the voter apathy towards the Congress is so strong that even seasoned leaders are reluctant to enter the fray.