Ranga Rao, who hails from Bobbili royal family, joined Y S Jaganmohan Reddy's camp four days ago and expressed full solidarity with the latter prior to his arrest in the disproportionate assets case.
He is the second MLA after Eluru's Alla Krishna Srinivas alias Nani to join the Jagan camp in the last one week.
Though the disciplinary committee of the Andhra Pradesh Congress wanted to issue show-cause notices to the two rebel MLAs, Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy reportedly prevented Committee Chairman Kanteti Satyanarayana from acting against the legislators.
Ranga Rao announced in his hometown Bobbili this afternoon that he would now formally join the YSR Congress. "I have decided to quit the Congress as it has been harassing the late Y S Rajasekhara Reddy's family," he announced, after meeting with his supporters.
Ranga Rao was elected to the Assembly in 2004 and 2009.
Congress has a wafer-thin majority in the 294-member Andhra Pradesh Assembly with 153 members, including the 16 of erstwhile Praja Rajyam Party. With the resignation of Ranga Rao, the strength has depleted to 152 -- only four more than the magic figure of 148.
The recent happenings in the party have further widened the rift between the Chief Minister and PCC president Botsa Satyanarayana. Botsa was very particular that the whip be cracked against the rebel MLAs, but Kiran reportedly was opposed to it.
"Kiran still wants to lure the rebel MLAs back into the party using the same old tactics he employed on a few other rebels in the past few months. But such tricks are only causing more harm to the party," a PCC leader lamented.
Sources close to Kiran maintain that they could not afford to lose MLAs at a time when the party position was dicey and when there were ominous signals for the Congress on the outcome of by-elections to 18 Assembly seats. Hence, the Chief Minister would not like any immediate action on the rebels.
Ranga Rao, however, did not leave scope for the Congress to act against him as he resigned from the party as well.