Congress assures change in Andhra ministers’ portfolios (Roundup)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

HYDERABAD - The Congress’ central leadership Thursday assured of changes in the portfolios of Andhra Pradesh ministers as the state government plunged into a crisis, a day after the new cabinet was sworn in. A minister resigned over the portfolio given to him and several others openly expressed their resentment.

Senior ministers, who were unhappy over a particular community being given all key portfolios, claimed that the central leadership had promised to address their grievances.

The first meeting of the state cabinet was held Thursday evening but Vatti Vasanth Kumar, who had resigned late Wednesday night after getting the tourism portfolio instead of rural development, stayed away. He was rural development minister in both the Y.S.Rajasekhara and K.Rosiah cabinets.

Other senior ministers, who held separate meetings through the day to discuss to plan their future course of action, attended the cabinet meeting following the intervention by the central leadership, which assured them that changes would be made in the portfolios.

The central leadership is also trying to convince Vasanth Kumar to take back his resignation.

At the cabinet meeting, Botsa Satyanarayana, speaking on behalf of the ministers aggrieved over the portfolios allotted to them, conveyed their unhappiness to Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy.

“We are sure that the high command will soon make the changes to ensure social justice. The government belongs to all and every section should have representation,” said Satyanarayana.

Another minister, Damodar Rajanarasimha said the high command would soon announce the deputy chief minister. Rajanarasimha, who is in the race for the post, and other leaders from Telangana earlier expressed their unhappiness over the chief minister not naming a deputy despite last week’s announcement by the leadership to this effect.

On a day when the Congress government plunged into a crisis, hectic activity was seen in the camp of Y. S. Jaganmohan Reddy, who quit the party and his Kadapa Parliament seat Monday.

The son of late chief minister Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy would soon float a new party. His close aide Ambati Rambabu told reporters that they had no plans to bring down the government as their goal was to build their proposed party into a strong force for the next elections.

Jagan resigned from the party to protest the alleged conspiracy by the leadership to divide the family by luring his uncle Y. S. Vivekananda Reddy with a ministerial post.

Vivekananda, who took oath as the minister Wednesday, met Jagan at the latter’s residence here Thursday but was heckled by his nephew’s supporters, who wanted him to resign.

Angry over the allocation of all key portfolios to the Reddy community, senior ministers from backward classes and other communities held meetings earlier in the day to chalk out their next move.

Some of them had privately threatened to quit and they had even decided to stay away from cabinet meet but reversed their decision following phone calls from party chief Sonia Gandhi’s political advisor Ahmed Patel and central leaders Veerappa Moily and Ghulam Nabi Azad.

In a midnight drama, Vasantha Kumar sent his resignation both as minister and member of the legislative assembly.

He Thursday said he had resigned from cabinet but would continue as a legislator.

The portfolios were announced at 9 p.m. Wednesday, nearly 12 hours after 39 ministers were inducted in the cabinet.

Ten other ministers, including seniors like Dharmana Prasada Rao, Satyanarayana, Ponnala Laxmaiah, J. Krishna Rao, Rajanarasimha and Kanna Laxminarayana were also unhappy with the portfolios given to them. Mukesh Goud and D. Nagender, both from Hyderabad, were also sulking.

The senior ministers, who were given key portfolios by YSR in his first cabinet (2004-09) and retained them in the second, felt that injustice had been done to them.

There are 14 ministers, including the chief minister, from the Reddy community in the 40-member cabinet and 10 of them were given all important portfolios.

P. Ramachandra Reddy, one of the five ministers dropped by Kiran Reddy, Thursday told reporters at Tirupati that he would now work against the chief minister. “I will show him my strength,” he said.

A couple of legislators, including former minister J.C. Diwakar Reddy, Wednesday openly voiced their unhappiness over not being inducted in the cabinet.

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