TDP expels one rebel MP, issues notice to the other (Lead)

July 23rd, 2008 - 7:11 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi/Hyderabad, July 23 (IANS) The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) Wednesday expelled one MP who defied the party to vote for the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) in the trust motion facing the Manmohan Singh government, and issued notice to another whose vote was declared invalid. Manda Jagannatham, who represents the Nagarkurnool Lok Sabha constituency, was expelled from the party, TDP chief N. Chandrababu Naidu announced in New Delhi, where he has been camping for the last few days to mobilise support against the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government that finally won Tuesday’s trust vote.

He said a show cause notice would be served on D.K. Adikeshavulu Naidu, who represents Chittoor in the Lok Sabha.

“We have asked him to explain why he failed to vote against the government as per the party whip. He is saying that he has not cast his vote in favour of the government and we have to verify this,” he said.

The two MPs defied the party whip Tuesday to vote for the trust motion, causing major embarrassment to Chandrababu Naidu, who was at the forefront of efforts to defeat the motion of confidence.

While Jagannatham is set to join the Congress party, Adikeshavulu Naidu is likely to join actor Chiranjeevi’s soon to be launched party.

The open revolt will bring down the TDP’s strength in the Lok Sabha to four.

The party suffered the setback at a time the former Andhra Pradesh chief minister was trying to re-emerge as a key leader in national politics and forge a grand alliance with the Left parties and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).

While Adikeshavulu Naidu’s vote was declared invalid on technical grounds, Jagannatham’s vote was counted among the 275 polled in favour of the government.

Adikesavulu Naidu’s vote was reportedly declared invalid by Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee. He could not cast his vote electronically and signed the specified slip marking his choice but later rushed to the speaker to say he had “erroneously” cast his vote against the government though he wanted to support it.

Jagannatham Wednesday met Congress president Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi and reportedly expressed his desire to join the party while Adikeshavulu Naidu is likely to join Chiranjeevi’s proposed party.

Jagannatham told a television channel that he voted according to his conscience and denied the allegation by TDP parliamentary party leader K. Yerran Naidu that he was bribed by the Congress.

“I felt that the nuclear deal is in the national interest and the government should not be brought down,” he said, challenging Yerran Naidu to prove his allegation.

Adikesavulu Naidu, who hails from the Kapu community, has been upset as the Chittoor Lok Sabha seat has been reserved for scheduled castes in the delimitation exercise. The constituency is in Chittoor district, from where Chandrababu Naidu hails.

Jagannatham is a leader of the Madiga sub-caste of the Scheduled Castes.

This is the latest in a series of setbacks to TDP. About half-a-dozen senior leaders of the party, including T. Devender Goud, who was considered number two, have quit the party in the last two months.

While Goud launched a new party to fight for separate statehood to Telangana, others are likely to join Chiranjeevi’s party, which is expected to be launched next month.

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