Amaravati: In a fresh jolt to the YSR Congress, yet another MLA from the party today crossed over to the Telugu Desam in Andhra Pradesh, taking the total count of legislators who have switched loyalty to 23. Giddi Eeswari, the tribal legislator from Paderu constituency in Visakhapatnam district, joined the ruling party here, with Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu formally welcoming her into the TDP fold.
Incidentally, Eeswari once reportedly threatened to “chop off” Naidu’s head if he went ahead with permitting bauxite mining in the Araku-Paderu Agency area of Visakhapatnam district. Last year, when legislators from the Jaganmohan Reddy- headed YSRC were making a beeline to join the Naidu-led party, Eeswari alleged she was offered “crores of rupees” to shift loyalty to the TDP but refused.
“Now they (the YSRC) are accusing me of receiving Rs 25 crore for jumping over to the TDP. This is totally false. I was a teacher and a tribal who follow ethics. It is untrue that I was offered the money,” the first-time MLA told reporters after meeting the chief minister. Eeswari said she joined the TDP “with a lot of pain” as (YSRC chief) “Jagan let us down”.
“We have toiled for the YSRC for years but now Jagan is bringing in tribals from the plains and thrusting on us. We tried to prevail on him against it but to no avail. Hence, I decided to join the TDP,” she said. “I placed only one demand before the Chief Minister – that bauxite mining be not permitted at any cost in the Agency area and safeguard the interests of tribals,” the MLA said.
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Defection from the YSRC, the only opposition party in the Andhra Pradesh Assembly, began in February 2016 and so far 23 lawmakers have crossed over. One of them, however, passed away in March this year. Of the remaining 22 legislators, four were made ministers in the Chandrababu Naidu Cabinet.
Petitions seeking disqualification of these lawmakers were pending before Assembly Speaker Kodela Sivaprasada Rao. The speaker, however, has pointed out that the issue was held up because of an ongoing litigation in court.