In a setback to the Telugu Desam Party, its MLA from Itchapuram in Srikakulam P. Sairaj called on YSR Congress president Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy in Chanchalguda jail on Friday and announced his decision to work for him.

Minutes after the MLA met the YSRC chief, the TDP suspended him from the party for anti-party activities. The axe also fell on former TDP MLA K. Mohan Rao and Pathapatnam TDP in-charge K. Venkataramana.

It was only on Thursday that TDP MLC Boddu Bhaskara Rama Rao from East Godavari sprang a surprise by meeting Jagan and announcing his decision to join YSR Congress.

The Itchapuram MLA and other TDP leaders later called on YSRC honorary president Y.S. Vijayamma.

Talking to reporters, Mr. Sairaj said internal wrangling in TDP had demoralised him. The MLA said after the untimely death of his political guru K.Yerran Naidu, he was facing hardships in the constituency.

With Mr. Sairaj’s decision, the number of TDP legislators backing YSRC has risen to five. Y.Balanagi Reddy (Mantralayam), Amarnatha Reddy (Palamaner), A.V. Praveen Kumar Reddy (Thambalapalle) and Taneti Vanitha (Gopalapuram) are already sailing with Jagan. The YSRC with 17 MLAs of its own, now enjoys the backing of seven Congress and five TDP rebels. With this, the strength of Congress in the Assembly has come down from 155 to 148 which was barely enough for the survival of the government.

On the other hand, the strength of Telugu Desam has come down from 92 in 2009 to 76. The TDP had suffered the reversals with the elected members quitting the party and joining either the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) or the YSRC. The first to raise the banner of revolt was Chennamaneni Ramesh who was elected from Vemulawada constituency in Karimnagar district.

Then followed Pocharam Srinivas Reddy (Banswada), Nagam Janardhan Reddy (Nagarkurnool), N. Prasanna Kumar Reddy (Kovuru), Jogu Ramanna (Adilabad) and Gampa Goverdhan (Kamareddy). Except Mr. Prasanna Kumar Reddy who won on YSRC ticket and Mr. Janardhan Reddy who was elected as an independent, all the others were successfully returned as TRS candidates.

The fate of nine other MLAs is yet to be decided by the Speaker with just over a year of the remainder term of the present House to expire. They include S. Venugopalachary (Mudhole), K. Harishwar Reddy (Parigi), T. Vanitha (Gopalpuram in West Godavari), Chinnam Ramakotaiah (Nuzvid in Krishna), Kodali Venkateswara Rao alias Nani (Gudivada in Krishna), Bala Nagi Reddy (Mantralayam in Kurnool)), Praveen Reddy (Thamballapalli in Chittoor) and N. Amarnath Reddy (Palamaneru in Chittoor).