Vijayawada, Feb 23: With an eye on the 2019 elections when the number of Assembly constituencies in Andhra Pradesh is expected to increase to 225 from the current 175, the ruling Telugu Desam Party is working on a strategy to woo local leaders from other parties.
The admission of four MLAs and an MLC from YSR Congress into the TDP last night is seen as part of the initial step in this direction.
According to TDP sources, the game plan has the full backing of Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, who is of the view that the party needs strong leaders by the time strength of the Assembly is raised.
The strategy named 'operation akarsh' was worked out at a recent meeting of party leaders, attended by TDP general secretary Nara Lokesh.
The party is giving a "development orientation" to the move arguing it will embrace anyone who is ready to be part of its social and economic agenda. "Anybody who is ready to join hands with us to take our development agenda forward will be admitted into the party," TDP secretary and MLC Tondepu Dasaradha Janardhan told PTI.
In a setback to Jaganmohan Reddy-led YSR Congress, four MLAs and one MLC of the only Opposition party in the state had yesterday crossed over to the TDP. The four YSRC MLAs -- Bhuma Nagi Reddy (Nandyal), his daughter Akhila Priya ((Allagadda), Adinarayana Reddy (Jammalamadugu) and Jaleel Khan (Vijayawada West) --said they were joining TDP for development of their respective Assembly constituencies and also the state.
While ruling out their resignation as MLA, the YSRC rebels have left the ground open for the opposition party to seek their disqualification, a process that would be in the Speaker's domain.
With the Congress in bad shape in the state, the YSRC is the only opposition that looks strong in parts of the state, particularly Rayalaseema region.