Vijayawada: Former Minister Kanna Lakshminarayana is the new president of the Bharatiya Janata Party in Andhra Pradesh. Kanna, who is a five-time MLA from Guntur, was a Minister in the previous Congress government and joined the BJP after the Congress debacle in the State.
His appointment comes after reports recently that he was quitting the BJP to join the YSR Congress. It is said that the party leadership had asked him to wait till the Karnataka polls were over. He succeeds Visakhapatnam MP K Haribabu who was at the helm since the bifurcation of the State and suddenly quit the post last month..
Another strong contender for the post Somu Veerraju would be the State convener of the BJP Election Management Committee.
The 62-year-old leader, who hails from the Kapu community, had aspired for the top post but after the BJP leadership indicated that he would not be given the responsibility, he decided to switch loyalties.
Lakshminarayana had severed his nearly four-decade association with the Congress to join the BJP in 2014, a few months after the elections. He had served as Minister and held various portfolios in the Cabinets of Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, K Rosaiah and Kiran Kumar Reddy.
He was given the responsibility to head the BJP weeks after the State’s ruling Telugu Desam Party (TDP) pulled out of the BJP-led NDA at the Centre over the issue of special category status to the State. Later, the BJP also pulled out of the coalition government in the State.
Lakshminarayana will have the big task of leading the party’s campaign for the 2019 elections which it may have to contest alone amid criticism from rivals for going back on the promise of according special status to Andhra Pradesh. The BJP, which fought the 2014 elections in alliance with the TDP, bagged four Assembly and two Lok Sabha seats. The coalition won 17 of the 25 Lok Sabha seats and 106 of 175 Assembly constituencies.
BJP leaders pointed out that the party had polled about 7 per cent votes in the 2014 Lok Sabha and over 2 per cent in the Assembly polls. They claim that the party had a huge scope for improvement in vote share and seat tally.