Now that former Union minister M Venkaiah Naidu has stepped out of the Bharatiya Janata Party to become the Vice President of India, the BJP leaders in Andhra Pradesh are heaving a sigh of relief, as there is none to force them to play second fiddle to Telugu Desam Party and its president N Chandrababu Naidu.
Since there are reports that present Andhra BJP president and Visakhapatnam MP Kambhampati Haribabu, who is closer to Venkaiah, is likely to be taken into the Union Cabinet when Prime Minister Narendra Modi reconstitutes it, the Andhra BJP leaders do not have any hurdle. They are now lobbying for a strong leader who can help the party grow independently in the state.
According to sources, they have put forth the name of party MLC and senior leader Somu Veerraju as the next president of the party state unit.
With Haribabu being tipped for the Central cabinet berth, Somu Veeraraju might step into his shoes. A decision is likely to be taken in this regard during the visit of party chief Amit Shah to Vijayawada later this month.
The advantage of Veerraju is that he belongs to the Kapu community which is up in arms against the Kamma-dominated TDP and is looking for a powerful alternative in the 2019 elections.
While the TDP has lost its base in the Kapu strongholds and YSR Congress party getting the Reddy tag, the BJP leadership is eyeing the Kapu community, especially in East and West Godavari districts. If the BJP can lure the Kapus, it can win at least half a dozen MP seats in the coastal Andhra.
Somu Veerraju has the credibility among the Kapus as it was he who had played a key role in persuading Jana Sena chief Pawan Kalyan to campaign for the BJP-TDP combine in 2014 general election.
He may once again be tasked to take the support of the film actor who belongs to Kapu community, whether the BJP fights election in 2019 on its own or in alliance with the TDP or YSRCP.