Andhra BJP unit revolts after former Congress minister is appointed state chief
The appointment of former Congress minister Lakshminarayana Kanna as the president of Andhra Pradesh unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has triggered a rebellion in the party on Monday, barely two months after its alliance with the ruling Telugu Desam Party ended.
The BJP central leadership on Sunday announced Kanna as the president of BJP’s Andhra Pradesh unit, contrary to the earlier reports that firebrand legislator Somu Veerraju was tipped for the post. Veerraju was made the convener of the party’s state election committee.
Kanna’s appointment took the state BJP leaders by surprise and shock. While Veerraju switched off his mobile phone and was not available for comments, several BJP leaders from East Godavari and West Godavari districts openly expressed their resentment against the party’s decision.
BJP’s East Godavari district wing president Malakondaiah and Rajahmundry urban BJP president Bommula Dattu announced their resignations from the party in protest against Kanna’s appointment. Many BJP leaders from West Godavari also threatened to resign if Veerraju was not made the party chief within 24 hours.
Veerraju hails from Rajahmundry and has a strong following among the Kapus in twin Godavari districts. On the other hand, Kanna is also from Kapu community but hails from Guntur district, where the rival Kammas are predominant.
According to a BJP leader from West Godavari, the appointment of Kanna goes against the party’s fundamental principles. He was a hard core Congress leader for over three decades before he joined the BJP in November 2014, after realising that the Congress had lost its ground completely in Andhra Pradesh. As such, he is a fairly new comer into the BJP.
Kanna’s detractors also pointed out that he does not have any background of the Sangh nor did he have any association with the BJP in the past. “This is against the basic tenets of the BJP. How can the party select a leader with Congress background as the state BJP president, ignoring loyalists like Veerraju, who have been struggling to strengthen the party right from the beginning?” Malakondaiah asked.
Kanna has also been accused of being a mercenary. He had resigned from the BJP last month after the reports from Delhi that the party had finalised the name of Veerraju, a relatively junior in politics, as the state BJP chief. He was getting ready to join the YSR Congress party on April 25 but dropped the plan at the eleventh hour after receiving a call from the BJP central leadership. “Is it fair to make such a leader who almost defected to the YSR Congress party for his political gains as the BJP chief?” the BJP leader wondered.
The newly-appointed BJP state president, who was in Delhi on Monday, brushed aside the revolt as a minor incident. He told media that he would make his best efforts to bring glory to the party in Andhra Pradesh by taking everybody into confidence.
“I have no detractors in the party and I respect everybody, I will bring all like-minded forces together and bring down the undemocratic rule of Telugu Desam Party president N Chandrababu Naidu in Andhra,” Kanna said.
Meanwhile, Telugu Desam Party described Kanna as the YSR Congress party’s mole in the BJP.
“He was appointed as the state BJP chief on the recommendations of YSRC president Y S Jaganmohan Reddy. Everybody knows Jagan has become a spokesman of BJP and he has funded the BJP campaign in Karnataka elections,” TDP official spokesman and MLC Y Babu Rajendra Prasad said.
The TDP parted ways with the BJP in March after the Centre refused to grant special category status to Andhra Pradesh which the saffron party had promised in the 2014 general election campaign.