By Gali Nagaraja
Guntur: The engagement of BJP-AP unit president Kanna Lakshminarayana, former weight lifter, in a slugfest with the ruling YSR Congress party secretary general and MP Vijayasai Reddy in the corona times amuses political watchers.
The BJP leader joined chorus with the opposition TDP to add political temperature to the sizzling summer heat by dragging Vijayasai into the alleged financial fraud in procuring rapid testing kits from South Korea for screening of corona cases in Andhra Pradesh. The YSRC government is facing criticism for purchasing the kits, each priced at Rs 730 plus GST. Chattisgadh government purchased each kit for Rs 337, lending credence to the allegations. Pat came from Vijayasai Reddy who in turn accused Kanna of having received Rs 20 crore from TDP chief N. Chandrababu Naidu to malign the YSRC government.
Kanna with his roots deep in the Congress has developed love-hate relationship with the YSRC. As a matter of fact, it’s the Congress that connects him and Chief Minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy of the Yuvajana Sramika Rytu Congress (YSRC) as well. Beginning his political career with the National Student Union of India (NSUI), the student wing of the Congress, he served the grand old party as a five-time MLA and minister during the times of Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy, K. Rosaiah and N. Kirankumar Reddy. He served as the Minister for Transport in the government of Rajasekhar Reddy, Jagan’s father, in undivided Andhra Pradesh.
It’s the same umbilical cord with which Kanna prepared ground to join the Jagan’s party after dumping the Congress before the general elections in 2019. In the last minute he dropped the idea and chose the BJP to head its state unit. Kanna rose to be a preeminent position in the Congress as a Kapu leader with anti-Kamma vibes borrowed from his caste icon slain Vangaveeti Mohan Ranga. However, he changed the tune, of late, and began speaking the language of the TDP, which is identified with Kammas, on the government’s agenda– shifting of capital from Amaravati; retendering for the Polavaram irrigation project and revision of Power Purchase Agreements inked with independent power producers during the previous TDP government. This change in Kanna’s stance obviously raises the hackles of the YSR Congress.
A section of leaders in the BJP view the Kanna’s shift as an offshoot of divergent perceptions within the saffron party on the Jaganmohan Reddy government. BJP spokesman and Rajya Sabha member GVL Narasimha Rao openly backed Jagan Reddy on his proposal to divest Amaravati of the capital. But Lakshminarayana with properties and interests in Amaravati hauled him over the coals on the issue. The TDP alleged that GVL had received bribes from the YSRC government in exchange for his rhetoric favouring the capital shifting.
Lakshminarayana completed two years as head of the state party. Although his term runs for three years, some sections within his party are pressing for change of leadership. He is accused by his intra-party critics of importing Congress culture in a party which is based on a strong pro-Hindutva ideology.