Several seniors leaders like Kodela Sivaprasada Rao, G Surya Rao, Dhulipalla Narendra Kumar, K Kala Venkata Rao and Kaluva Srinivasulu are vying for Andhra Pradesh Assembly Speaker's post.

Sivaprasada Rao, a senior TDP leader, appears to be the strongest contender for the post. Election to the post is set to be held during the first Assembly session of the state, to begin on Thursday.

Reports claim that the selection of Speaker to the state Assembly is going to be a tough job for Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu as several senior leaders, who could not be accommodated in the state Cabinet of ministers, are in the race. Chandrababu Naidu-headed TDP-BJP combine had formed the government in AP.

Senior leader P Narayanaswamy Naidu becoming the next Speaker of Andhra Pradesh has been ruled out as he has already been tipped to be appointed Protem speaker. He will have to administer the oath of office to all MLAs including Chandrababu Naidu, during the proceedings of the newly constituted AP Assembly.

Meanwhile, Srinivasulu, who is aspiring to become the state's Speaker, may not make it as he is from the Rayalaseema region, and many MLAs from the region have already been accommodated in the Cabinet.

It is understood that the TDP leadership wants to maintain regional balance in the allotment of key legislative positions. And moreover, Chandrababu Naidu himself and Legislative Council Chairman A Chakrapani hail from the Rayalaseema region. Hence, the Assembly Speaker's post could be given to an MLA from coastal Andhra to maintain the regional balance in the state, revealed TDP sources close to the Chief Minister.

So, the contest for the Speaker's post will be between Venkata Rao, Sivaprasada Rao, Narendra Kumar and Surya Rao. But even Venkata Rao's candidature may not be considered for the position as his close relative K Mrinalini has already been accommodated in the Cabinet, the source pointed out.

And though Narendra Kumar is a four-time legislator, his candidature could be overruled for the Speaker's post as the other contestants are senior than him. So finally, the contest for the position is likely to be between Surya Rao and Sivaprasada Rao, claim TDP sources.

Sivaprasada Rao, who is a five-time MLA from Guntur, is considered the favourite. However, there are many MLAs from the influential Reddy community in the House to give a tough fight to him, the sources stressed.