BJP Rejig: Haribabu To Go; Veerraju, Kanna Or Purandeswari In?

Having decided to change the leadership in AP, the BJP is seriously weighing the implications on choosing a leader from the dominant Kamma or Kapu community.

Amaravati: The BJP leadership, which is riding on the success of the recent elections in the northern States and also the Delhi municipal elections, is seriously weighing the options of having its next leader from Kamma or Kapu communities. The party, according to sources, had decided on changing its present chief K Haribabu and take up the massive exercise of expanding the party in the State. Though BJP national president Amit Shah had asked the party leaders to spread the party wings in the State a year ago, it could not move even a single step forward. The party national leadership is upset with Haribabu’s leadership and the intervention of Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu in AP affairs. Amit Shah is now firm on changing the leadership and at the same time keeping Venkaiah Naidu out of AP politics. This would be initiated once the party completes its proposed national executive meeting in Visakhapatnam later next month.

Meanwhile, a serious analysis of caste equations in Andhra Pradesh is being done by the party leadership at the national level. A view that the dominant Kamma and Reddy communities have their own parties leaving no such option for the Kapu community in the State. The Kapu community is now vibrant with its leader Mudragada Padmanabham leading a movement for reservations. Though there is no leadership vacuum in the community, a good number of leaders want a party of their own at least now. The 2009 elections have seen Praja Rajyam Party of Chiranjeevi and Pawan Kalyan, but for different reasons it did not go well with the Kapu community. Interestingly, neither Chiranjeevi nor Pawan Kalyan owned up the community and related the party to it. The next elections in 2019 too are set to see Pawan Kalyan’s Jana Sena party in the elections. However, it is already clear that Pawan Kalyan is not interested to limit his party to the Kapu community. In this backdrop, the BJP leadership is now looking at the advantages of giving the party leadership to the Kapu community.

There is a strong lobby within the party working in favour of Kapu community and thus leaders like Somu Veerraju and Kanna Lakshminarayana are in the fray. The candidature of Veerraju is backed by the Sangh Parivar, while Kanna is favoured by the leaders at the helm. The loyalty to the party stands as an advantage to Veerraju, while the support in the Kapu community is seen as advantage to Kanna. The party, if decides to go with the Kapu community for the next election, will have to pick either of these leaders.

There is another argument in favour of having a Kamma leader to head the State unit, particularly for the next round of elections. A section of the leaders want that the politics in Andhra Pradesh would not go out of the hands of the dominant Kamma community and it is politically correct to have a leader from that community. In such a case, the candidature of former Union minister Daggubati Purandheswari stands above all. She enjoys good support from within the Kamma community and is seen as the right alternative to TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu in the State politics.

However, the change of guard in the State politics is likely to come only after the national executive scheduled to be held in Visakhapatnam.

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