Purandeswari is warming up to Naidu despite stormy past; here's why
Andhra Pradesh BJP chief may be looking to consolidate Kamma votes to defeat Jagan's YSRCP
A recent social media post by YSR Congress Party general secretary V Vijayasai Reddy, taunting former minister and BJP leader Daggubati Purandeswari for finding ‘bava sarupyata,’ meaning like-mindedness for her bava (brother-in-law) and TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu, after becoming the party’s Andhra Pradesh head, points to the rekindling family ties between the Naras and the Daggubatis as well as an apparent factionalism in the BJP.
Political experts say while both the families share a bitter past centered around movie mogul and politician NT Rama Rao, Purandeswari’s latest outreach to Naidu may be a sign of her ambition to unite the Kammas, the community both she and Naidu belong to. This despite the BJP’s plans for Purandeswari Purandeswari to throw TDP to the margins and consolidate Kamma votes for the saffron party.
When Purandeswari accused the Jagan Mohan Reddy government of putting Naidu behind the bars in connection with the skill development scam without following proper procedure, Vijayasai Reddy was quick to post on X, formerly Twitter, that Somu Verraju, the former chief of Andhra BJP wouldn’t have shown sympathy for the “tainted” Naidu unlike his sister-in-law.
Verraju instead would have turned the TDP’s vulnerability into an opportunity for his party’s progress in the state and the issue of Purandeswari’s “like-mindedness” for Naidu wouldn’t have arisen, Vijayasai Reddy said.
Blood is thicker than water
Ever since she took the reins of the party in Andhra Pradesh, Purandeswari has often shown solidarity with Naidu’s family which has been under constant attack by the ruling YSRCP government – be it in the form of trolling on the personal life of her sister and Naidu’s wife Bhuvaneswari or the TDP chief’s recent arrest.
Naidu reportedly getting access to BJP president JP Nadda, allegedly with help of an invite extended by Purandeswari at the release of a ₹100 coin in commemoration of her father NTR in Delhi, enraged YSRCP all the more. As a daughter of NTR and BJP’s senior leader, she played a key role in release of a coin by the President Droupadi Murumu.
Purandeswari also incurred the wrath of YSRCP for not inviting NTR’s widow and her step-mother Lakshmi Parvathi to the event. Parvathi has been a member of the YSRCP since NTR’s death.
“Purandeswari failed to limit the coin release event to the NTR family. Instead, she took it beyond a point by inviting Naidu. She could have limited the invitees to NTR’s daughters and sons,” Raka Sudhakar, a right wing commentator, told The Federal.
In the wake of an embarrassing poll drubbing in Karnataka, the BJP top brass deployed Purandeswari as its Andhra Pradesh chief in line with its plans to build a new social engineering with Kammas for strengthening its base in the state. Sources say, the BJP hopes Purandeswari will push the TDP out of the margins by rallying her resource-rich and politically dominant community behind her. The caste coalition the BJP stitched up by keeping Kapus in the forefront became a failed experiment in 2019. The vote share the party headed by Kapu leader Kanna Lakshminarayana, got in 2019 was much less than the votes polled under NOTA.
The feud between the Daggubati and Nara (Naidu) families date back to the time when NTR was the chief minister of the state and was unseated from power due to a coup led by Naidu, his elder son-in-law, in 1995. While Naidu reportedly was assisted in the coup by Purandeswari’s husband Daggubati Venkateswara Rao, also an aspirant for NTR’s legacy, and had promised him the deputy chief minister’s post, the latter was allegedly given a raw deal after Naidu took control of the party.
Shorn of NTR’s legacy, the Daggubati family looked for greener pastures in the Congress and later the BJP. But the shadow of Naidu continued to haunt them in their political endeavours.
Purandeswari, who represented the Congress from Visakhapatnam in the Lok Sabha in 2009, and became a Union minister under the UPA regime, was literally hounded out of her seat and forced to get a losing one (Rajampet) in Rayalaseema by her brother-law in a seat-sharing deal with the then ruling TDP in 2014 after she switched to the BJP.
Purandeswari plans to unite Kammas?
However, Purandeswari’s latest defence of Naidu is proof that she is ready to forget the past.
With Andhra politics being polarised between two communities, the Kammas and the Reddys – a community led by Jagan Mohan Reddy, who came to power in 2019 – experts say Purandeswari with Naidu’s help aims to strengthen the Kamma voterbase.
The BJP’s change in leadership from Somu Veerraju, a Kapu leader, to Purandharewari has further fuelled speculations that her bonding with Naidu may be part of a plan to consolidate Kammas against Reddys in the power battle.
After a drubbing in the 2019 Assembly polls following his snapping of ties with the BJP, Naidu too has been trying to restore his friendly relations with the saffron party.
When Purandeswari, wittingly or unwittingly joined former Congress Union minister Renuka Chowdhury, and film producer Aswani Dutt in condemning the arrest of Naidu, YSRCP leaders labelled her as a ‘jaati’ (caste) leader, indirectly hinting at her purported caste play.
Purandeswari’s bonding with Naidu also reflects a split in the party in Andhra with one section loyal to YSRCP and another to TDP, putting the saffron party at crossroads.
As a BJP leader puts it, “there is a T-BJP and Y-BJP in the saffron party. But there is no real BJP.”