Internal squabbles in three states, including Rajasthan, which goes to the polls later this year, appear to be posing a challenge to the BJP national leadership. According to party sources, the national leadership is having a tough time in resolving the leadership crisis in Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh, while the newly formed BJP-led government in Tripura is embroiled in a power tussle between two top leaders. The crises in the state units are delaying launch of a full-swing electioneering in Rajasthan, as also in Andhra Pradesh, where the BJP has to prepare to go alone after losing ally TDP in the state.
The party’s Andhra Pradesh unit chief K Hari Babu had resigned on April 17, followed by his Rajasthan counterpart Ashok Parnami the following day, in order to give way to new appointments. But the party’s top leadership has not been able to take any decision due to internal differences in state units, sources said.
In Andhra Pradesh, a section of the party was keen to have MLC Somu Veerraju as the new state unit chief. But the party is now considering Kanna Lakshminarayana, a former Congress leader who joined the BJP in 2014, after a senior leader had some reservations about Veerraju, sources said. Another group of leaders, however, pointed out that Lakshminarayana was “almost ready to leave the BJP”.
Sources in the BJP said Lakshminarayana, a veteran leader who had been a minister in AP on multiple occasions over the last two-and-a-half decades, had sent his resignation to the leadership, but party chief Amit Shah spoke to him and convinced him to stay, sources said. On April 23, when PM Narendra Modi held a video conference with state BJP leaders, Lakshminarayana simultaneously convened a meeting with his supporters in Guntur to discuss his future.
Reports suggested that YSR Congress leaders had been in touch with Lakshminarayana.
According to a party leader, Lakshminarayana, a Kapu leader known for his eloquent speeches, started “signaling that he would leave the BJP as the party was considering others like Veeraju for the post of state chief”.
Veerraju also belongs to the Kapu community, and the BJP is keen to have a leader from the community to head the state unit.
For Rajasthan, the BJP national leadership has not been able to come to a consensus on appointment of the unit chief either, as CM Vasundhara Raje has rejected their choices. While Union Minister Gajendra Shekhawat had been picked by the central leadership for the post, Raje met Shah on April 27 and said she would not accept the leadership’s choice if it was taken without considering her. At least two senior party leaders had spoken with Raje to convince her but she remains stuck on her position, sources said.
In Tripura, differences between CM Biplab Deb and BJP in-charge for the Northeast Sunil Deodhar are deepening and the party leadership is likely to move Deodhar from Tripura, sources said. While they had worked together in the run-up to the Assembly polls, Deodhar did not support the party’s decision to appoint Deb as CM. “There have been a number of complaints from the CM’s camp against him. The party is of the view that the new cm should be allowed to function without disturbance.” a senior party leader said.