As TDP takes its eyes off Lok Sabha Speaker post, Andhra BJP chief Purandeswari emerges as likely choice?

Though she is in BJP now, Purandeswari is from the NTR family, to which TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu also belongs.

ByRaj Rayasam

Published Jun 12, 2024 | 7:25 AMUpdatedJun 12, 2024 | 11:02 AM

Andhra BJP chief Daggubati Purandeswari during a public meeting (X)

Telugu Desam Party (TDP) may not press for the Lok Sabha Speaker’s post, or for that matter for any more berths in the Narendra Modi 3.0 Cabinet.

According to informed sources in the party, it is content with two berths allotted: Cabinet Minister K Ram Mohan Naidu and Minister of State Dr Pemmasani Chandrasekhar.

As the speculation increases that Andhra Pradesh BJP president Daggubati Purandeswari is likely to step into Om Birla’s shoes in the 18th Lok Sabha, the talk in the TDP camp — that it might seek the Speaker’s post — has receded of late.

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Purandeswari’s pedigree

A reliable source in TDP in Vijayawada said: “At present, there is no proposal to seek a Speaker’s post or additional berths.”

But having Purandeswari as the Speaker of the Lok Sabha is as good as TDP having its candidate. This is because though she is in BJP now, Purandeswari is from the NTR family, to which Chandrababu Naidu also belongs.

Purandeswari happens to be the second of the four daughters of the late NTR, the matinee idol who went on to become the chief minister of undivided Andhra Pradesh three times.

She is also the sister of Bhuvaneswari, wife of Chandrababu Naidu, who took over the TDP leadership from its founder NTR.

Even if TDP wants to have its member in the Speaker’s chair, there is no leader who has the stature.

Many TDP MPs are first-timers, while those who are not are confined to their constituencies.

Srikakulam MP Ram Mohan Naidu could fit the bill, but he has already been taken into the Cabinet.

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TDP’s calculations

According to sources, TDP may not insist on any more positions in the Cabinet since the more its involvement in the Central government, the more leverage it would lose while seeking benefits for Andhra Pradesh.

And it is apparently intent on seeking quite a few benefits, starting with liberal assistance and implementation of the promises made in the AP State Reorganisation Act of 2014.

TDP has been insisting that it joined the NDA unconditionally, implying that it did not ask for anything in return. This would, in a way, give it the leeway to ask for anything now.

That TDP would not insist on special category status is now more or less clear as it is no longer as emotive an issue as it was immediately after the bifurcation of the state 10 years ago.

Instead, the party would insist on liberal assistance for completing Naidu’s unfinished task of completing the construction of Amaravati, the capital of Andhra Pradesh.

But TDP general secretary Nara Lokesh makes no bones about insisting on the implementation of the promises made in Parliament at the time of the division of the state, but he is careful in avoiding making any reference to the special category status.

He is afraid that might ruffle the feathers of the BJP top brass, something TDP does not want to do at this stage.

Also Read: Andhra Pradesh elections shake up political families, cause estrangement

BJP’s considerations

In fact, it would make sense for TDP to let BJP make Purandeswari the Speaker of Lok Sabha as it would show results in case BJP tried to obtain a majority in the Lok Sabha on its own at the expense of TDP and other parties.

AAP, sensing the possibility of its MPS being poached by BJP — a game at which the saffron party is an expert — has advised TDP and JD(U) to take the Speaker’s post.

This, it is said, is precisely one of the reasons BJP wants to have its candidate as the Speaker.

BJP is considering making Purandeswari the Speaker as it wants to change the perception that it is essentially a North Indian party.

If it appoints Purandeswari — who hails from Andhra Pradesh — the Speaker, it would give an impression that it was caring for South India as well.

BJP wants to have this change of perception since the ground beneath its fleet in the North appears to be slowly slipping. It has to make good for what it had lost in the Hindi heartland.

The Lok Sabha Speaker is considered a very important position as he or she would have sweeping powers over the conduct of members in the House.

A three-time MP, Purandeswari has vast experience as a parliamentarian. She was also a member of Manmohan Singh’s Cabinet during the UPA -II regime, and earned accolades from him.

She speaks five languages — including Hindi, which is an added asset for a Speaker in a House where most of the members also use it to communicate on a daily basis.

More than anything else, she is polite and has a disarming smile to quell any trouble that might arise in the House, where the Opposition is stronger now.

Her performance as the Andhra Pradesh BJP president is also quite remarkable, though she had the support of TDP and Jana Sena.

BJP won three of the six Lok Sabha seats (a 50-percent strike rate) and eight of the 10 Assembly seats (an 80-percent strike rate) it contested in the state.

(Edited by Arkadev Ghoshal)