TDP looks at MPs likely to make it to the Union Cabinet

TDP looks at MPs likely to make it to the Union Cabinet

Political circles here have begun speculating about Telugu Desam Party (TDP) candidates who could it make it to the Union Cabinet from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, party sources said here today.

The speculation began after TDP president Chandrababu Naidu formally announced that his party would join the Narendra Modi-led NDA government at the Centre, sources said.

The TDP, which hopes to secure at least four berths in the Union Cabinet, has six MPs in the Rajya Sabha, including two from Telangana, while 16 MPs have been elected to the Lok Sabha. The party has only one Lok Sabha member from Telangana.

Who are the ones from among these 22 TDP MPs, most likely to become Union Ministers, happens to be at the heart of these speculations within the TDP, even as caste and regional equations are being weighed, sources said.

Of the 16 Lok Sabha members, as many as 12 MPs would make their debut in Parliament, though three of them namely J C Diwakar Reddy, P Ashok Gajapathi Raju and Thota Narasimham, have rich experience as MLAs and state ministers, sources said.

J C Diwakar Reddy and Thota joined TDP on the eve of elections, while Ashok Gajapathi Raju is a TDP veteran and a six-time legislator.

Going by Raju's seniority as a legislator and command over parliamentary affairs, he is likely to be a front-runner for a Cabinet berth, according to party sources.

Five-time MP Rayapati Sambasiva Rao (TDP), who could not realise his dream of becoming a central minister during his years in Congress, is likely to face competition from BJP's Kambhampati Haribabu, since both of them belong to the same caste, sources said.

Rao, who crossed over to the TDP on election eve and won his sixth term in Parliament, may fancy becoming Union minister.

Chittoor MP N Siva Prasad, who has been elected for the second consecutive term, may be TDP's choice under the Dalit quota. He had previously served as a minister in the Chandrababu Naidu government. From Telangana, educationist Malla Reddy who made it to the Lok Sabha on debut, could be a choice for the Cabinet.

Though senior leader T Devender Goud would have been an obvious choice as a backward caste candidate from Telangana, his failing health might dampen his prospects, TDP sources said. In such an event, another backward caste MP Gundu Sudha Rani from Telangana might get lucky, sources said.

Chandrababu is said to be worried about the backlash if he prefers industrialists Y Satyanarayana Chowdary or C M Ramesh, who are both Rajya Sabha members, for Union Cabinet posts.

However, these MPs are said to be lobbying their case citing the "hard work" they put in during the elections, besides helping build a rapport with the BJP leadership at the national level, which helped consolidate the TDP-BJP alliance, sources said. Meanwhile, for the BJP, the choice is limited but clear.

Former Union Minister Bandaru Dattatreya should automatically find a berth in Modi's cabinet since he is the sole winner from the Telangana region.

From Seemandhra region, Haribabu should be the choice, given his rich academic credentials, besides the fact that he is also the BJP's state party president. The third MP to be elected from AP, Gokaraju Ganga Raju, is a debutant and hence may not be considered, sources said.

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