HYDERABAD: The Kamma lobby in the Congress seems to have played spoilsport with their own `muddu bidda.' Daggubati Purandeswari, who was hopeful of elevation to the cabinet rank till a few minutes before Manmohan Singh effected the much-needed cabinet reshuffle on Sunday morning, was left to fend for the crumbs. If sources are to be believed, her chances were scuttled by a strong Kamma troika led by senior MP Kavuri Sambasiva Rao who put in his papers on Saturday after he was denied a berth.
Party insiders aver that the high command was forced to beat a hasty retreat following vehement opposition from the MPs -- Kavuri, Rayapati Sambasiva Rao and Renuka Chowdary -- who were already sulking after being ignored by the PM.
Purandeswari's "short-lived dream" fell apart thanks to the strong opposition put up by Kavuri, Rayapati and Renuka, sources said.
"They made their position very clear to the high command that their supporters would be let down and could invite a strong reaction if Purandeswari were to be elevated as they are the senior leaders in the community," the sources said. Insiders said Renuka was livid within the closed walls of the party and the high command had to toe her line. Kavuri, a five-time MP and staunch loyalist, has already sent his resignation in protest against his non-induction in the cabinet.
In fact, the disappointing news came a bit late in the day for Purandeswari as she was all gung-ho to take oath as there was clear communication from the party top brass about her elevation as cabinet minister. She was also `promised' the high-profile commerce portfolio. But Purandeswari, the prodigal daughter of TDP founder NTR, was in for a shock when AICC president Sonia Gandhi reportedly called her up at around 10.30 am to inform her about the sudden `change of plan'.
"Sonia Gandhi called me up and explained the situation. I am convinced with whatever my leader has reasoned out for me. I am grateful to her and the Prime Minister for considering me worthy enough to handle the important commerce portfolio," Purandeswari said, betraying no emotion. Though she declined to elaborate any further, she said she was prepared to take up the responsibility of the commerce portfolio as a minister of state. "I would discharge my duties as a disciplined party worker," she added. Now, Purandeswari as MoS without independent charge will have to work under Anand Sharma.
Insiders said another factor which played dirty with Purandeswari was Sharma's reluctance to move out of the commerce ministry. "Anand Sharma was not ready to move out of the commerce ministry and the party high command kowtowed to him. It could play ball with a junior minister like Purandeswari but not with Anand Sharma who is a senior leader," a highly placed source in the Congress told.
While the internal caste dynamics put paid to the hopes of Purandeswari, sources said the high command was none too happy with her for going around publicly celebrating the news of her possible elevation much before the PM could announce it. "Purandeswari has to blame herself for putting foot in her mouth," a senior leader said.
Meanwhile, Kavuri, it is learnt, has been assured of a `bigger role' in the party. "He could be made a general secretary making him in-charge of a couple of Congress-ruled states," sources said. Serious efforts are already on to calm the nerves of Rayapati and Renuka also. When contacted, Rayapati said: "I have made my position clear to the high command and it is up to them to take a call." Curiously, he tried to extend support to Purandeswari. "I feel sorry for Purandeswari," he said.