Hyderabad: Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy is believed to be ready to consider a proposal from the Bharatiya Janata Party on taking up the post of Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker. YSR Congress has 22 MPs and is one of the largest blocs outside the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), but friendly towards the BJP. Jagan met Union Home Minister and BJP president Amit Shah on Friday evening in New Delhi.
Jagan is in the national capital to attend the Niti Aayog meeting, which was chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday. The talk of BJP offering the Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker post to YSR Congress, which won 22 out of the 25 Lok Sabha seats in Andhra Pradesh, started from last weekend after the Prime Minister’s visit to the temple town of Tirumala in Andhra. Jagan accorded a rousing reception to the PM there.
If offered, Jagan might propose the name of Goddeti Madhavi, 26, MP from Araku (ST), for the post. This would serve two purposes—a woman and an ST being offered the coveted Constitutional post. However, everything depends on BJP’s final decision on to which non-NDA party it should offer the Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker post to. The post could be given even to Biju Janata Dal (BJD).
Madhavi, a first time MP, is a giant killer as she defeated former Union Minister and five-time former MP, Kishore Chandra Deo by a margin of around 2.21 lakh votes in the Lok Sabha elections. Her father, G. Demudu, was a former CPI MLA from Chintapalli (ST) in north costal Andhra. Madhavi, a BSc and BEd graduate, is single.
Sources close to Jagan told this newspaper that the choice of Madhavi is also subject to the response of the BJP leadership, which is yet to announce its Speaker candidate. The Speaker and Deputy Speaker posts will have to be filled next week when the 17th Lok Sabha meets for its first session. If BJP picks a woman for the Speaker’s post, the choice of Deputy Speaker might go to a male.
The issue is believed to have come up at Jagan’s meeting with Amit Shah, where they discussed several things, besides fostering close ties between the BJP and YSR Congress at the national level. This is Jagan’s second meeting with Shah since 23 May, when the election results were announced.
As BJP tradition, the post of Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker is offered to a non-NDA party, which is friendly towards the ruling coalition. In the last Lok Sabha, the post was given to AIADMK. Now, Shiv Sena, an NDA constituent wants the post, but BJP may consider a non NDA party.
The offer of Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker post to YSR Congress signifies more than a parliamentary practice by BJP. Right from the day Jagan emerged victorious and Chandrababu Naidu was defeated, BJP’s jubilation, both at the state and Central levels, has been palpable. BJP wholeheartedly welcomed the outcome and congratulated Jagan.
Perhaps, Jagan is the only non-BJP leader who called on Narendra Modi even before both of them were sworn in officially. Jagan also held a round of talks with Amit Shah on 25 May and the topic of YSR Congress joining NDA is believed to have come up. However, Jagan wanted to achieve his primary demand of securing special status to Andhra Pradesh, before joining the NDA.
Though there is no official word from either side on this demand, sources in YSR Congress have said that processing of the demand might be a long-drawn procedure, but it is not a closed subject. Even BJP general secretary and MP, G.V.L. Narasimha Rao said that though “the special status issue was a closed one, nothing was final in politics”.
The chemistry between Jagan and Prime Minister Modi was evident when the latter visited Tirumala last Sunday. Jagan tried to touch the feet of Modi as a mark of respect, but the latter prevented him and hugged him affectionately. Even while addressing BJP leaders at Tirupati, the PM said that he would stand by the new Chief Minister, Jagan, for the development of Andhra Pradesh.