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Andhra CM expands Cabinet, sends strong signals to rebels

Andhra CM expands Cabinet, sends strong signals to rebels

Hyderabad: Proving the expectations of many Congress leaders and analysts wrong, Andhra Pradesh chief minister Nallari Kiran Kumar Reddy announced a full-fledged Cabinet comprising 39 ministers on Wednesday, sending strong signals that the party was ready to come down hard on dissidents.

Political analysts and many Congress leaders including party spokesperson B. Kamalakar Rao had expected the CM to announce a slim Cabinet that could help him keep the aspirations of many alive, leaving enough scope for expansions at later date.

Also Read YSR’s brother takes on Jagan, vows to remain in Congress

Analysts had opined that size of the Cabinet could be pruned down and left half filled in the wake of sudden resignation of late chief minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy’s son and Kadapa member of Parliament Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy on Monday.

However, the chief minister went ahead with the original strategy firmed up in New Delhi last week, and announced a full-fledged Cabinet. Andhra Pradesh has 294 legislators and can have up to 15% of the total number of legislators in the Cabinet, or 44 ministers. Kiran Kumar Reddy has left five berths vacant to accommodate allies such as actor-turned-politician Chiranjeevi Praja’s Rajyam Party which has extended outside support to the Congress government. A senior Congress leader said that the announcement of a full-fledged Cabinet, was aimed at showing party cadres that Jagan’s resignation had no impact on the party and that it was prepared to act sternly with dissidents.

Jagan has already suffered a setback in his own battlefield, Kadapa district, when his uncle vowed to stay back with Congress and take on Jagan if high command wants him. In a strategy to effectively check Jagan’s camp in Kadapa district, the CM has included not just the late Vivekananda Reddy in his Cabinet, but also a strong anti-YSR family leader D.L. Ravindra Reddy. Further, Ahmedullah, a loyalist of YSR who enjoys support of minorities in the district, was also given Cabinet berth.

As anticipated, Jagan’s camp is now waiting to attract the dissatisfied legislators, who could not get Cabinet berths. A close aide of Jagan, Gone Prakash Rao, said “We expect at least 15-20 strong aspirants, who failed to get berths, to rebel against the chief minister and join our camp over a period of time, which could prove a nightmare to the Congress government,".

“Kiran Kumar Reddy will face a tough time if the opposition parties take up anti-trust vote in the Assembly anytime going forward since at least 40-50 legislators rallying behind Jagan would not support the Congress government," said Rao.

Giving a boost to Jagan camp’s aspirations over fresh dissidents, Katasani Rambhoopal Reddy, legislator from Kurnool district, has questioned the chief minister for not accommodating him in the Cabinet. He said he was disappointed that his services to the party for decades ware not taken into account. “I will discuss the issue with my followers and decide on the future course of action," he said.


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