G. Nagaraja

Tota Sitamahalakshmi elected district president

ELURU: The election of Tota Sitamahalakshmi, Chairperson of Bhimavaram Municipal Council (BMC), as the president of the TDP district unit was marked by a showdown between the rival groups.

The party's organisational election was held here till late in the night of Monday under the supervision of State party observers—Karanam Balaramakrishna Murthy and Gadde Ramamohan Rao. The official announcement on the election outcome was made at a hurriedly convened media conference after 10 p.m. as the consensus remained elusive. The deadlock was resolved following a word from party president N. Chandrababu Naidu. Ms. Sitamahalaskhmi, hailing from Kapu community, was appointed convener of the district party hardly six months ago.

The exercise turned out to be a showdown on the caste lines as the post proved to be a bone of contention between the Kapus led by Ms. Sitamahalakshmi and the Khammas headed by former Union Minister Bolla Bulliramaiah. Kapus, who hold sway over the whole political spectrum in the district by virtue of their numerical strength, wanted to see Ms. Sitamahalakshmi in the party top post again. It may be recalled that the district party was led by Kothapalli Subbarayudu, also Kapu, until he deserted the party to embrace the PRP at the time of general elections.

The economically powerful Khammas represented by the Andhra Sugars lobby, sought to have somebody from their own community as the president this time. Mr. Nandigam Nageswara Rao, a senior leader from Chintalapudi area, has emerged as a contender from this group in that backdrop.

Ms. Sitamahalakshmi's group reportedly argued that the sidelining of Kapus might prove to be suicidal for the party. Recalling that the party top brass had allotted only one Assembly seat (Palacole) for Kapus in the previous Assembly elections while the Khammas managed to secure as many as five seats, the group held the view that it was the reason for the party to secure only 5 lakh votes in the district as against the PRP securing 10 lakh votes. It wanted the party leadership not to commit a similar blunder in the organisational elections.

The Khamma group, known as a ruling community within the party, had to beat a retreat when the party chief's word finally prevailed in favour of Ms. Sitamahalakshmi.