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Assembly Election
Post polls, AP parties in anti-poaching mode
Suresh Dharur
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, May 13
With pollsters predicting a hung Assembly, the political parties in Andhra Pradesh have started organising camps for their candidates to prevent poaching by rivals.

Particularly, smaller parties feel vulnerable to poaching as their legislators will be among the most sought-after by major contenders for power to touch the magic figure of 148 in the 294-member Assembly.

Not willing to take any chances, the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS), the Praja Rajyam Party of actor-turned-politician Chiranjeevi and the BJP are taking all possible measures to keep their flock together by arranging special camps for their candidates.

“Telangana Bhavan”, the TRS headquarters here, is all decked up to play host to the party candidates. Air-conditioners have been fitted and new furnishings provided in each of the 23 rooms earmarked for the candidates who will be required to stay put there from May 16.

They are not supposed to stir out of their rooms. They are even asked to surrender their mobile phones to the office staff. “We have asked our candidates to be present at Telangana Bhavan by May 15 evening,” TRS president K Chandrasekhar Rao said.

The TRS had a bitter experience of internal revolt a couple of years ago when 10 out of its 26 MLAs broke ranks and drifted towards the Congress.

The PRP has also unveiled similar plans to keep its flock together.

“We have asked our candidates to reach the party headquarters by the evening of May 16,” party vice-president T Devender Goud said. The fledgling party will hold a camp with its newly elected MLAs at a resort on the city outskirts.

Party candidate from the Mahabubabad Lok Sabha seat and former IPS officer DT Naik is reportedly in charge of security arrangements at the camp.

The PRP leadership feels that in the event of a split verdict, the ruling Congress and the main opposition TDP would make desperate attempts to woo its legislators by offering them inducements.

Interestingly, a majority of the PRP candidates had migrated from the TDP or the Congress.

Not to be left behind, the BJP also held a meeting with its candidates and asked them to be available at the party’s state headquarters on May 16.

Camp politics has been part of the state’s turbulent political history. When NTR was dethroned by his second-in-command N Bhaskara Rao in August 1984, he took all his loyal MLAs to Bangalore by bus and put them in a hotel till the crisis was resolved.

Over 11 years later, N Chandrababu Naidu held a camp with his followers at a star hotel in the city and unseated NTR, his father-in-law, from the Chief Minister’s post.

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