HYDERABAD: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) National President J P Nadda on Monday appointed senior leader Somu Veerraju as the president of party's Andhra Pradesh unit. He issued the order in New Delhi, appointing Veerraju in the new role. Effectively, Veerraju will succeed Kanna Lakshminarayana to the top party post in Andhra Pradesh.
One of the senior most leaders of BJP in Andhra Pradesh, Veerraju is finally rewarded in a fitting manner for his loyalty to the party. A native of Kattheru in East Godavari district, Veerraju is currently a Member of the state Legislative Council (MLC). Hailing from an agrarian family, he rose steadily up the ranks within the party and discharged duties in various capacities. Until his elevation now as the state unit chief, he was carrying out party activities and responsibilities as a general secretary of the state BJP.
Veerraju, known for his trait of speaking out candidly on issues, belongs to what many call as the 'original batch' of the BJP in Andhra Pradesh. This paraphrase assumed popularity and greater significance following an exodus of leaders from the TDP and the Congress into the saffron party before and after the 2019 general and Assembly elections.
In fact, on many occasions, Veerraju's name was speculated to be under consideration for the AP BJP unit chief post. Even around the time Kanna Lakshminarayana was appointed for the position, Veerraju was touted to be anointed in the coveted position. Despite the disappointment, he steadfastly remained loyal to his party to be finally rewarded now with his latest appointment.
The appointment of Veerraju by BJP's national leadership also comes as a big setback for Kanna Lakshminarayana. Since the time Kanna quit Congress and joined the BJP before being appointed as the state unit president, he has been facing severe criticism with his style of functioning, much to the amusement of party's original leaders. On many occasions, he was accused of working in a way to benefit the TDP rather than his own party, the BJP. Be it regarding the three capitals issue or the Amaravati capital region land scams of the previous TDP regime, he was seen mostly toeing a line that was never in alignment with the party's stand. Also, the party fared poorly under his stewardship in the 2019 Assembly and general elections. In fact, since the elections, there was constant speculation that the national leadership was about to replace him with one of the old-timers.
Despite removing Kanna Lakshminarayana from the top post, the BJP appears to have taken enough care in maintaining the caste equations keeping in mind the larger interests of the party in Andhra Pradesh. Both Kanna Lakshminarayana and Somu Veerraju belong to the Kapu community which has the largest population and voter base in the state.