Telugu Desam Party chief Chandrababu Naidu on Thursday condemned the defection of four of his party’s Rajya Sabha MPs to the Bharatiya Janata Party. The four MPs who switched sides are YS Chowdary, CM Ramesh, TG Venkatesh and GM Rao.

“We fought with BJP only for special category status and state’s interests,” Naidu told ANI. “We sacrificed central ministers for special status, condemn attempts of BJP to weaken TDP. Crisis is not new to the party. Leaders and cadre have nothing to be nervous about.”

The Telugu Desam Party had six MPs in the Rajya Sabha prior to the defections. YS Chowdary, CM Ramesh and TG Venkatesh had earlier in the day met President Ram Nath Kovind and submitted their resignation as legislators. They also met Vice President and Rajya Sabha Chairperson Venkaiah Naidu.

The BJP, at a press conference by its Working President Jagat Prakash Nadda, said the four legislators took the decision after a meeting of the TDP legislative party. Three of the four legislators, excluding Rao, were welcomed into the party at the press conference. BJP National General Secretary Bhupendra Yadav said Rao had been unable to attend due to an injury to his foot during the Rajya Sabha session, but had given his assent to join the party with his signature.

The Telugu Desam Party, which had quit the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance in 2018 on the matter of special status for Andhra Pradesh, performed very poorly in the Lok Sabha and Andhra Pradesh Assembly elections, results for which were announced on May 23. The party won just three Lok Sabha seats and 23 out of the 175 Assembly constituencies in the state, following which Naidu quit as the chief minister.

The Telugu Desam Party had ruled the state since 2014, when Telangana was carved out of Andhra Pradesh. The 2019 Assembly elections were the first after the bifurcation.

Before the poll results were declared, Naidu had made a pitch to form an Opposition alliance. He also shared the dais with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee at a rally in Kharagpur in West Midnapore district. He accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of “victimising the Trinamool Congress and Mamata Banerjee”, and said that “under the leadership of Mamata Banerjee, the country will get a new prime minister”.