Naidu’s Quota Conundrum
The Kapu community’s demand for reservations could make things sticky for the Andhra Pradesh CM
PMudragada Padmanabham, the patriarch of Andhra Pradesh’s numerically strong Kapu community, wants quotas for them in educational institutions and government jobs, which means including them in the backward classes (BCs). And he’s ready to do whatever it takes to get chief min-ister N. Chandrababu Naidu to concede.In a bind, Naidu ordered for Padma-nabham to be placed under house arrest on January 25, just as he was preparing to lead a 116-km protest march from Ravulapalem to Anataravedi in the Godavari delta. More than 2,000 riotready policemen descended on Kirlampudi, his native village, and neighbouring settlements to stall the ‘satyagraha’. But Padmanabham is adamant. “If lawful forms of protests are not allowed, we will teach the ruling party a lesson in the next assembly elections,” he said. Padmanabham wants Naidu to implement the recommendations of the K.L. Manjunath Commission (the report is expected later this year), sanction more funds to the Kapu Welfare Commission and establish hostels for impoverished Kapu students.
Changed demographics, owing to the bifurcation of the state, have worked in Kapus’ favour. Once just 17 per cent of the population in undivided Andhra, Kapus are now an electorally significant 27 per cent. Aware of the difference they could make in elections, Naidu included five Kapus in his council of ministers, including N. Chinnarajappa as deputy CM. There are 18 Kapu MLAs and two MPs. But the community is far from impressed.
GONE KAPU: Protests by community members