Hyderabad: Andhra BJP circles are agog with news that the state unit will shortly have a new president. The high command is on the lookout for a person who is not antagonistic to YSRC and Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy. Though many names are doing the rounds, the most talked-about name is that of party MLC, Somu Virraju.
Virraju is a known admirer of Jagan and a staunch critic of TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu. A Kapu leader from Coastal Andhra, Virraju's public avowal of support to the decentralization of the AP capital is well-known. BJP sources said YSRC is batting for Virraju's appointment as the Andhra president.
Andhra Pradesh BJP is currently led by a street-smart politician, Kanna Lakshminarayana. A former Congress veteran, Kanna is an influential Kapu leader and was a close confidante of YS Rajasekhar Reddy, who made him a Cabinet minister. Following the rout of Congress after bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, Kanna, who once thought of as a chief ministerial aspirant, found himself at the crossroads and joined BJP.
Though earlier, he had tried to join YSR Congress in desperation, the latter was unenthusiastic to accommodate old-guards. However, in 2018, Jagan was persuaded to admit Kanna to the party but BJP thwarted the move by appointing him the state unit president as it wanted to promote a non-Kamma and non-Reddy leader.
At that time, the saffron party was dreaming of catapulting to power riding on the wave of Narendra Modi and his phenomenal success in 2014. That did not happen in the 2019 elections.
This has brought about a change in the BJP attitude towards Andhra politics and on the need to have a fighter as the state president. Now one can see the YSRC-BJP bonhomie in full display at the higher level.
Kanna Lakshminarayana had been a die-hard critic of TDP and its leader Chandrababu Naidu. This invariably had landed him in the company of anti- Naidu's camp in BJP as well. The fact that BJP was TDP ally did not deter him. However, after the 2019 elections, Jagan's plan to scrap Amaravati as the state capital forced Kanna to take on Jagan as well, which the BJP bosses think is unnecessary now.
Kanna has unleashed a campaign against the shifting of Amaravati, which is more virulent than that of TDP's. On Sunday, he led a rally of party leaders from Guntur to Tullur village where women from the CRDA villages have been staging a dharna for 75 days.
Praising the women's determination to "Save Amaravati", Kanna said Jagan was shifting the capital to Vizag only to loot the city.
"When in Opposition, Jagan Mohan Reddy supported Amaravati capital. Once he formed the government he found that there was nothing left for him to loot in Amaravati. So, overnight he floated the three-capital formula and wanted to shift the executive capital to Vizag, where he can loot without competition," Kanna said.
He promised to join the women and intensify the agitation. He also said that, along with Jana Sena, he would soon announce 'Save Amaravati’ action plan.
This is the backdrop against which Jagan’s admirer Somu Virraju's name is popping up as the next Andhra BJP president.