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Bandaru Dattatreya’s exit from cabinet signals BJP’s re-organization in Telangana

LiveMint logoLiveMint 06-09-2017 Yunus Y. Lasania

Hyderabad: By dropping Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Bandaru Dattatreya from the union cabinet and getting Venkaiah Naidu elected as vice-president of India, the BJP central leadership has signalled a major party re-organisation in Telangana, making way for younger faces, senior party leaders said.

Dattatreya, the MP from Secunderabad, is one of the BJP’s senior-most leaders and his exit as labour minister in last week’s reshuffle surprised many in the party’s Telangana unit.

“We are hearing that Dattatreya might be appointed as a governor about six months before the 2019 election,” said a senior party functionary from Hyderabad, who asked not to be identified.

“Even we were all caught by surprise when Dattatreya was dropped from the cabinet, that too with just about two years to go and him being the only (BJP) MP from Telangana. But we are expecting new people from other parties to join the BJP in Telangana before the 2019 general election. To accommodate them and younger faces from within the party, we will have to make space,” the functionary explained.

Naidu and Dattatreya are two of the senior-most leaders from the two Telugu-speaking states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh (AP), and have dominated party politics for years. “Including Dattatreya, we have only about four to five strong faces in the BJP in Telangana, and there are more gaps to fill,” said a BJP leader from Warangal, also under condition of anonymity.

BJP national president Amit Shah is expected to visit Telangana in October to review the party’s progress with regard to the 2019 general election.

At present, the BJP has five MLAs and one MP (Dattatreya) in Telangana. The party has made it clear that it will go it alone in the 2019 general elections, breaking its alliance with the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), with which it contested the 2014 elections. In AP, it will continue the alliance with the TDP, which is part of the National Democratic Alliance (TDP), said party leaders.

BJP Telangana spokesperson Krishna Saagar Rao, however, said, “We are disciplined, and we go by what has been decided, for whatever reasons. The party has said that it wants to utilise Dattatreya for expansion (in Telangana), and will assign him some work.”

On not having any presence in the union cabinet after Dattatreya’s exit, Rao pointed out that defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman belongs to the BJP’s Telangana unit.

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