Is six-time Lok Sabha member and former Union minister A Sai Pratap inching towards YSR Congress? Sai Pratap’s decision to not get involved in the upcoming byelections in the three Assembly constituencies in his Rajampet Parliamentary constituency is being interpreted within state Congress circles as the first step in his eventual defection to YSR Congress.
Sai Pratap, a Balija leader and a staunch protege of former chief minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy, has already expressed unhappiness over criticism by some Congress leaders of the YSR regime and threatened to quit the ruling party unless the tirade against his late mentor was halted.
In these circumstances, Sai Pratap’s decision not to campaign for the Congress in the three Assembly segments within his Kadapa district base has unnerved a party which has already been weakened by factionalism. Health minister DL Ravindra Reddy was the first to distance himself from campaigning for the bypolls saying that he was unhappy with Kiran Kumar Reddy’s style of functioning.
There is a fear in Congress circles that without the active presence of Sai Pratap, the Balijas, who are numerically the single-largest community in at least two of the three constituencies in question, will switch allegiances to Telugu Desam Party.