Setback for TDP; Mangalagiri BC leader Ganji Chiranjeevi joins YSRCP

Ganji Chiranjeevi, a key TDP leader from the backward classes in Mangalagiri of Andhra Pradesh

Ganji Chiranjeevi joins YSRCP

AMARAVATI: Ganji Chiranjeevi, a key TDP leader from the backward classes in Mangalagiri of Andhra Pradesh, on Monday met YSRCP chief and Chief Minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy at his camp office here and formally joined the ruling party.

This is being seen as a major setback for the opposition TDP, especially for its national general secretary Nara Lokesh, who is determined to get elected from this Assembly constituency in the 2024 elections. Lokesh lost the contest here in 2019 to YSRCP's Alla Ramakrishna Reddy.

Chiranjeevi met YS Jagan on Monday along with his family members before formally joining the YSRCP. He was accompanied by Kurnool MP Dr Sanjeev Kumar, Mangalagiri MLA Alla Ramakrishna Reddy, MLC Murugudu Hanumantha Rao – another prominent BC leader of the constituency – besides party's senior functionaries Sajjala Ramakrishna Reddy and Lella Appi Reddy.

Chiranjeevi crossing fences to the YSRCP clearly signals the ruling party's intentions to fortify its base in Mangalagiri before the next elections. The move is certain to dent the prospects of the TDP at a time when Lokesh is working hard on the ground to establish connect with the electorate here.

On the other hand, Chiranjeevi's entry is only likely to hot up the race for the ruling party's ticket for the next elections. Though the sitting MLA Alla Ramakrishna Reddy appears to be out of the reckoning due to the caste equations, the tussle for the party's candidate will now revolve around three local BC leaders. Kandru Kamala, another prominent BC leader, is the third who is hoping for the party's candidature. She too has met YS Jagan recently.

Until Chiranjeevi's entry into the YSRCP, there was a perception that YS Jagan was inclined to field MLC Hanumantha Rao next time, given his influence among the weaver's community. However, in the last few days, there has been this talk that Chiranjeevi could be appointed as the party's additional coordinator for the constituency, as part of a new convention that Jagan has started in his exercise to scout for the winning candidates in 2024.

In the likelihood of leaning towards Chiranjeevi as its eventual candidate, the YSRCP may have to do a tightrope walk in keeping all the other influential leaders in good spirits and make sure their dissidence does not hurt its prospects at the hustings.

Chiranjeevi, who also belongs to the weaver's community which boasts of a majority of votes in Mangalagiri, was with the TDP for a long time. He contested in 2014 Assembly elections but lost to YSRCP's Alla Ramakrishna Reddy. In 2019, he was robbed of a second chance following TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu's decision to field his son Lokesh from this constituency.

Speaking to the media after meeting YS Jagan on Monday, Chiranjeevi credited the YSRCP government with fulfilling its promises and working for the welfare of the downtrodden. He also trained his guns at the TDP, claiming that there was no respect for BCs in the party. The rhetoric apart, Chiranjeevi's decision to leave the TDP is learnt to have been driven by Lokesh's keen interest in testing his fortune for the second time in a row from Mangalagiri.

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