Former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu's Telugu Desam Party (TDP) looked set for one more loss in parliament on Monday, with a Lok Sabha lawmaker hinting at quitting the party. Kesineni Srinivas Nani, the lawmaker from Vijayawada, delivered his message in an acerbic tweet to his party boss urging him to "control your pet dog", referring to a colleague.
"Chandra Babu Garu if you don't want people like me in the party you can let me know I will resign as Member of Parliament and also to the Party membership. If you want people like me to continue please control your pet dog," Kesineni Srinivas tweeted.
This was taken as a grim sign for Chandrababu Naidu after four TDP Rajya Sabha members broke away and joined the BJP.
Kesineni Srinivas's unflattering reference was to a TDP legislative council member, Buddha Prasad Venkanna, who is believed to be close to Mr Naidu; the two have been caught in an ugly war of words for over a week now.
During this nasty exchange, the two TDP leaders have called each other names and traded corruption allegations on social media. Kesineni Srinivas even mocked Mr Venkanna saying "someone who can't speak four sentences is now tweeting".
Mr Venkanna said everyone knew how Kesineni Srinivas used one number plate for several vehicles and how he had cheated and taken over former Speaker GMC Balayogi's money and property.
So did Mr Sriniwas use unusually sharp language to provoke Mr Naidu into expelling him? Already, the TDP lawmaker has sparked talk with a visit to Nagpur to meet Union Minister Nitin Gadkari just five days after the election results were announced.
Mr Sriniwas had also sarcastically refused the post of TDP's chief whip in Parliament, saying Mr Naidu "should not give him such an important post and should choose someone more efficient and capable". Guntur MP Jay Galla was made parliamentary party leader and Srikakulam lawmaker Rammohan Naidu was named floor leader.
Mr Sriniwas denied that he was joining the BJP, telling reporters that he was "as likely to join the BJP as Naidu was likely to join the YSR Congress" of Jagan Mohan Reddy.
For Mr Naidu, the desertions are a big worry after his party's abysmal outing in the Lok Sabha and assembly elections. Telugu Desam Party managed to win 23 seats in the 175-seat state assembly and just 3 out the 25 Lok Sabha seats in Andhra Pradesh.
The only consolation for the TDP is that the BJP has not shown much inclination to ask Lok Sabha members to join the party. Also, unless one more Lok Sabha member decides to shift, Mr Srinivas would invite action under the anti-defection law.