A grassroot-level leader

HYDERABAD, DEC. 30. Fifty four-year-old Kopppula Harishwar Reddy, who will be elected Deputy Speaker of the Legislative Assembly on Monday, is a grass-roots-level politician who began his career as sarpanch of Pargi in Rangareddy district three decades ago.

After a long stint as sarpanch, he became samithi vice-president. He made an unsuccessful bid to enter the Assembly in 1983 when he contested as an Independent only to lose by a narrow margin to Mr. Ahmed Sharief of the Congress.

Mr. Reddy was, however, elected to the Assembly from the Pargi constituency in 1985 on the TDP ticket and again in 1994 and 1999. He was chairman of the A. P. State Finance Corporation for three years till 2000 and earlier served as member of the TTD Board and Director of the A. P. State Agro Industries Corporation.

Like several other leaders in his party, Mr. Harishwar Reddy had no inkling of his impending selection as nominee for Deputy Speaker's post. Immediately after adjournment of the House at noon, he left by car to Pargi only to be summoned back by the Chief Minister, Mr. N. Chandrababu Naidu, to file his nomination.

Mr. Naidu held a meeting of TDP leaders at his residence to elicit their views about the nominee. All of them suggested that the Deputy Speaker must be from Telangana and zeroed in on the names of Mr. Harishwar Reddy and Mr. C. Muthyam Reddy of the Dommat constituency in Medak district.

Mr. Harishwar Reddy was known to be unhappy with the recent Cabinet reshuffle and had, along with two other party MLAs from the district, Mr. A. Chandrasekhar and Mr. M. Mahender Reddy, criticised the Home Minister, Mr. T. Devender Goud, for keeping him out. His nomination is seen as an attempt to placate the group.

Speaking to presspersons later, Mr. Reddy agreed that his elevation had restored the political balance in the TDP in Rangareddi district. Asserting that he was always satisfied, he said that he had only demanded that the party leadership accommodate any one of the three MLAs.

Meanwhile, the TDP spokesman, Mr. R. Chandrasekhar Reddy, and the Government Chief Whip, Mr. Kagitha Venkata Rao, said the Minister for Legislative Affairs, Mr. Y. Ramakrishnudu, had informed the CLP Deputy Leader, Mr. J. C. Diwakar Reddy, and the MIM floor leader, Mr. Asaduddin Owaisi, of the party's decision to field Mr. Harishwar Reddy for the Deputy Speakership and sought their cooperation.

Denying the suggestion that the Deputy Speaker's election had been announced suddenly, they pointed out that it was known to the Opposition that the post would be filled before end of the current Assembly session.

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