In another big setback for the Congress, former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy joined the BJP on Friday, becoming the second leader from South India to switch parties just a day after Anil Antony left the Congress to join the saffron party.
Mr Reddy, who served as the last Chief Minister of undivided Andhra Pradesh before the formation of Telangana as a separate state in 2014, resigned from the Congress in March this year over serious differences with the party leadership.
The 62-year-old leader’s decision to join the BJP will strengthen the party in the run-up to the assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh next year, where the ruling YSR Congress is pitted against the main opposition Telugu Desam Party. The BJP is aiming to emerge as the third alternative in the assembly elections.
The four-time former MLA, has considerable influence in the Rayalaseema region of the state and may be projected as the party’s potential chief ministerial candidate by the BJP.
He had earlier resigned from the Congress in 2014, after the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, and formed his own party, ‘Jai Samaikyandhra’. However, with his party failing to make any political impact he came back to Congress fold in 2018.
Reddy joined the BJP in the presence of Union Minister Pralhad Joshi and other party leaders.
Welcoming Reddy to the BJP, Joshi said he will strengthen the party’s fight against corruption and that his decision would be a “big boost” for the party in Andhra Pradesh.
“Many members of Kiran Kumar Reddy’s family were in Congress. When I met him some time ago, he told me that he was influenced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Today he is taking a big leap and joining the BJP. He will strengthen our fight against corruption because his image as an MLA and minister has been very clean. It will be a big boost for the BJP in Andhra Pradesh,” Joshi said.
Reddy slammed the Congress leadership for its “inability to accept the people’s verdict and make a course correction. They believe they are correct and all others, including the people of India, are wrong,” he remarked..
“They want authority to control but don’t want to work hard or take any responsibility… The Congress is getting damaged in all states and its high command does not interact with others or take their opinion,” said the four-time former MLA.
Praising the BJP’s leaders led by PM Modi for their “hard work and commitment towards the nation”, he said, “They have clarity of thought and consistency, and taking courageous decisions is the hallmark of the government.”