Telugu Desam Party President N Chandrababu Naidu will meet Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi and other top BJP leaders in New Delhi on Sunday to decide on the Union Cabinet berths for his party MPs. The following day he will attend the swearing-in ceremony of Modi and return to Hyderabad, TDP sources said today.
Naidu, who will soon assume charge of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, will reach Delhi tomorrow night. TDP hopes to secure at least four berths in Narendra Modi Cabinet but the list of aspirants appears to be long. The party has six MPs in Rajya Sabha, including two from Telangana, and 16 have been elected to Lok Sabha this time. Of the 16, only one is from Telangana. As many as 12 out of the 16 MPs will be making their debut in Parliament though three of them -- J C Diwakar Reddy, P Ashok Gajapathi Raju and Thota Narasimham -- have rich experience as MLAs and state ministers.
Reddy and Narasimham had joined TDP only on the eve of the elections while Raju is a party veteran and six-time legislator. Going by his seniority as a legislator and command over parliamentary affairs, Raju could be a front-runner for a Cabinet berth, party sources said. Five-time MP Rayapati Sambasiva Rao could not realise his dream of becoming a Central minister in all his years in Congress.
He jumped to TDP on election eve and won the sixth term in Parliament and may fancy a chance of becoming Union minister. "It is for Naidu to take a call," Rayapati remarked, when asked about his chances of making it to the Union Cabinet. He, however, may have competition with BJP's Kambhampati Haribabu as both belong to the same community.
Chittoor MP N Siva Prasad, who has been elected for the second consecutive term, may be TDP's choice under Dalit quota and be made a Minister of State. He had previously served as a minister in the Chandrababu Naidu government.
Nimmala Kistappa, a Backwad Class leader elected for the second consecutive term, is also said to be aspiring for a berth in the Union Council of Ministers. From Telangana, educationist Malla Reddy who made it to the Lok Sabha for the first time, could be a choice as a Minister of State.
Though senior leader T Devender Goud would have been an obvious choice as a Backward Class candidate from Telangana, his failing health might dampen his prospects, TDP sources noted. In the event, another Backward Class MP Gundu Sudha Rani from Telangana might become lucky as a Minister of State.
Naidu is said to be worried about any backlash if he prefers industrialists Y Satyanarayana Chowdary or C M Ramesh, both members of Rajya Sabha, for the Union Cabinet. The MPs, however, are said to be lobbying their case citing the "hard work" they have put in during the elections and also in building a rapport with the BJP leadership at the national level.
For the BJP, the choice is limited but clear. Former Union Minister Bandaru Dattatreya should automatically find a berth in Modi's Cabinet as he is the sole winner from Telangana. He had previously served as a Minister of State in the Vajpayee government.
From Seemaandhra, Haribabu should be the choice given his rich academic credentials and also that he is the state party president.