Dismantling speculations, BJP Andhra chief D Purandeswari, national vice-president DK Aruna fail to make it to Union Cabinet

The bigger surprise was the announcement of Narsapuram BJP MP Bhupathiraju Srinivasa Varma as a member of the Union Cabinet.

ByRaj Rayasam

Published Jun 11, 2024 | 8:00 AMUpdatedJun 11, 2024 | 8:00 AM

BJP Andhra chief D Purandeswari, national vice-president DK Aruna.

The Narendra Modi 3.0 Cabinet saw the snub of two female frontrunners from the Telugu states — Andhra Pradesh BJP president D Purandeswari and BJP national vice-president from Telangana DK Aruna.

The frenzied speculation that they would find their way into Modi’s Cabinet petered out following the oath-taking ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan ended on Sunday, 9 June.

As the pleasant evening turned into night, it became as clear as daylight that they could not rise to the Prime Minister’s expectations.

If their exclusion from the Cabinet was a surprise, the bigger surprise was the announcement of Narsapuram MP Bhupathiraju Srinivasa Varma — known as BJP Varma — as a member of the Union Cabinet.

Also Read: Telangana BJP chief G Kishan Reddy and his reward for dedication and loyalty

Varma makes the cut

Varma was the only BJP MP from Andhra Pradesh to be taken into the Cabinet. The other two saffron party parliamentarians — CM Ramesh from Anakapalle and Purandeswari from Visakhapatnam — stood small as Varma seized the day.

The BJP contested six Lok Sabha seats in the state but won only three. It lost Araku, Rajampet and Tirupati to the YSRCP.

According to sources in the BJP, the party may have a different assignment for Purandeswari. Since she has experience as a Union minister, the party would surely utilise her services in one way or the other.

The immediate problem the party would face if she is taken into the Cabinet is that they would have to find a popular leader to replace her as the party’s state chief, which might be difficult, the source added.

It appears that the party did not want to take more than one from Andhra Pradesh and the choice went for Varma since he is an original BJP leader. He has been in the party, leading movements against the government and is considered popular in his constituency.

He has been made the Minister of State in the Ministry of Heavy Industries and the Ministry of Steel.

‘Recognition of loyalty’

After he was sworn in, he said that his inclusion in the Cabinet was a token of recognition of his loyalty and commitment to service.

“This recognition came to me not all of a sudden. There is 30 years of hard work behind it,” he said.

Varma began his active career in the BJP when he became president of the party’s Bhimavaram town unit in 1991. He then became a councillor in Bhimavaram Municipality.

Later, he rose to be the state secretary between 2020-2023. He won the Narasapuram Lok Sabha seat with a huge margin of 2.76 lakh votes.

It is also said that the BJP picked him up because he belongs to the Khastriya community which is the dominant caste in his area.

This apart, he is a loyal and hardcore BJP leader unlike the other two BJP MPs — D, Purandeswari and CM Ramesh — who made a lateral entry into the party.

There is also a general perception that though they are in the saffron party, their heart always lies with the TDP. They are more like TDP leaders in BJP’s clothing.

The BJP also took two TDP MPs into the Cabinet — K Ram Mohan Naidu as Minister of Civil Aviation and Dr Pemmasani Chandrasekhar as the Minister of State in the Ministry of Rural Development and the Ministry of Communications.

Following that, the prime minister had probably thought that the inclusion of either Purandeswari or CM Ramesh — even though the latter is from the Velama community, a BC community in Andhra Pradesh — would be like giving away three berths to the TDP.

Also Read: BJP Thrissur MP Suresh Gopi refutes reports of resigning as union MoS

The case in Telangana

In Telangana, the inclusion of G Kishan Reddy as Minister of Coal and Mines was no surprise. He was already a Cabinet minister and since he is a Reddy — a dominant community in Telangana — his continuance is required for strengthening the party.

But his inclusion has apparently hurt the interests of party national vice-president DK Aruna who also belongs to the Reddy community.

“How can the party take two Reddys into the Cabinet? It has to be either Kishan Reddy or Aruna. In such a case, Kishan Reddy is a better bet for the party. He has been with the party throughout his life but Aruna migrated to the party from Congress,” the source said.

“If, at a later date, Kishan Reddy is appointed as national president of BJP or is taken as the Speaker, which is not going to happen now, her time may come. Till such time, she would have to wait. We cannot help if she is very much disappointed,” he added.

She also has to keep in mind that she is a first-time MP and normally debutants are not taken into the Cabinet though there might be exceptions now and then, he said.

The party also chose Bandi Sanjay Kumar as the Minister of State in the Ministry of Home Affairs from Telangana, since he had done a lot of service to the party.

“This apart he belongs to Munnur Kapu, a BC caste. It is a fact that Dharmapuri Arvind and another leader Eatala Rajender are also BCs, but the party cannot pick all of them. Eatala Rajender is a senior leader and his services would be utilised,” the source said.

However, he did not rule out the possibility of making Rajender the president of the Telangana unit of the party since Kishan Reddy might find it burdensome to handle the additional responsibility any longer.

It is probable that Eatala was not taken into the Caben since he is also a first-time MP.

But what papers clearly is that all three faces of the BJP from the two Telugu states are quintessential BJP leaders, tempered in RSS and BJP ideologies. More than anything, this aspect seemed to have weighed more with the party leadership.

(Edited by Muhammed Fazil)