Setback for Congress as Ganta, Erasu, T.G. Venkatesh leave the party

The Congress suffered a major setback as plans for eleven MLAs, including three former Ministers, to join the Telugu Desam were finalised at a meeting with its president N. Chandrababu Naidu here on Thursday.

All three Ministers Ganta Srinivasa Rao, Erasu Pratap Reddy and T.G. Venkatesh called on Mr. Naidu at his residence. Another ex-Minister Shilpa Mohan Reddy was also present, sources said.

They added that Mr. Srinivasa Rao and three other MLAs from Visakhapatnam and one MLA from East Godavari would be joining TDP at a ‘praja garjana’ programme in Visakhapatnam on March 8. The MLAs – Avanthi Srinivas (Bheemili), C. Venkataramaiah (Gajuwaka), Panchakarla Ramesh Babu (Pendurthi) and Kanna Babu (Kakinada-Rural) – were also present at the meeting with Mr. Naidu. All of them, including Mr. Srinivasa Rao, were elected on behalf of Praja Rajyam Party which eventually merged with the Congress.

The batch of former Ministers and now Congress MLAs from Kurnool district E. Pratap Reddy, T.G. Venkatesh and Mr. Mohan Reddy too met Mr. Naidu. It was decided that they will join the TDP in the ‘praja garjana’ at Kurnool.

Three Congress MLAs from Nellore – Adala Prabhakar Reddy (Sarvepalli), Sridhar Krishna Reddy (Nellore-Urban) and Polamreddy Srinivasulu Reddy (Kovur) – will join TDP in the `praja garjana’ at Nellore on March 5. Mr. Krishna Reddy was elected on Praja Rajyam ticket. Mr. Prabhakar Reddy represented the requests of Mr. Krishna Reddy and Mr. Srinivasulu Reddy in their absence to Mr. Naidu.

Rajya Sabha members of TDP C.M. Ramesh and Garikapati Mohan Rao facilitated the meeting of MLAs with Mr. Naidu.