Andhra Pradesh: Keshava joins Backward Class CM race

Hyderabad, May 01: With the prospects of a hung assembly looming large and the need for a consensus coalition chief minister in that event, former PCC
president K Keshava Rao has become the latest Telangana Congress backward class (BC) leader whose name is doing the rounds for the top post. Keshava Rao, a former journalist is however a Rajya Sabha MP and had not contested the assembly polls.

The race among BC leaders to become the first chief minister of Andhra Pradesh from that community began two days ago when Y S Rajasekhara Reddy proposed the name of major irrigation minister Ponnala Lakshmaiah as a chief ministerial candidate.

This happened after the Congress high command veered around to the possibility of a hung assembly and the need for an acceptable Congress CM candidate for the TRS and the PRP to join hands with it and form a coalition.

Sources close to Keshava Rao said he had better credentials than Lakshmaiah to become the CM. “Like Ponnala, KK is also a BC leader from the Telangana region and has served as PCC president. Keshava Rao has the blessings of the high command and being a Munnuru Kapu, has been assured of the support of Prajarajyam Party. Therefore, he is the ideal choice for the consensus chief minister post,” said a leader.

According to sources, Keshava Rao impressed the Congress high command with his diplomatic and negotiating skills by wooing the LJP to merge with the Congress in Jharkhand and ensuring a patch-up between Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee and Congress president Sonia Gandhi which saw the two share the dais for the first time in eight years this week. As AICC general secretary, Keshava Rao is in-charge of Jharkhand, West Bengal, Assam and Andaman and Nicobar islands.

But sensing that the BCs have the best chance now of becoming a chief minister, many are aspiring for the post which would not make it easy for the Congress high command to decide on one.

Apart from the fact that Lakshmaiah is close to Rajasekhara Reddy, the chief minister had proposed the major irrigation minister’s name also to scuttle the chances of PCC president D Srinivas to become the consensus CM candidate.

Like Ponnala and Keshava Rao, DS is also a BC leader from the Telangana region. Apart from these three, Rajya Sabha MP V Hanumantha Rao is also an aspirant and a chatter has begun among some Andhra leaders like revenue minister Dharmana Prasada Rao who has questioned the wisdom of the Congress high command in scouting for a CM from the BC community only from the Telangana region.

Many other BC leaders are likely to throw their hat in the ring in the next few days. Some Congress leaders have also begun informal talks with the TRS and PRP leadership to seek their support and approval if and when the prospects of a hung assembly becomes a reality.