Nearly two months after taking oath as a chief minister, Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) supremo K. Chandrasekhar Rao is yet to announce his new cabinet. While a few names of senior leaders are doing rounds in party circles of being chosen, senior TRS leaders also said that Rao is being tight-lipped, and added that he is expected to form (cabinet) this month in the coming days.
Three senior TRS leaders, who did not want to be quoted, said that nobody in the party also has an inkling about the new cabinet. One of them had earlier told Mint that Rao, also known as KCR, was waiting for the “inauspicious" period to end in mid-January so that he could announce names. “It is being said that KCR might form a cabinet on 10 February, but even that is not confirmed. We will know only a day in advance," another senior leader, who also requested anonymity, added.
Rao was sworn-in as the chief minister on 13 December, 2018, after the TRS won a thumping majority by bagging 88 of the 119-member assembly seats in the state elections. It left the main opposition Congress with just 19 seats and the Telugu Desam Party (both had formed an alliance together with the Communist Party of India and Telangana Jana Samithi) with just two seats. Since Rao was sworn-in, 56 days have passed.
TRS functionaries said that even KCR’s son, K.T. Rama Rao (known as KTR), may or may not be given the information technology (IT) portfolio like in the TRS’ previous term. However, KTR was appointed as the party’s working president, a post that never existed, just a few days after the TRS won the assembly elections. “Only KCR knows who is going to be appointed. Nobody else does," a TRS MP, who did not want to be quoted, told Mint.
As of now, only TRS MLC Mohammed Mahboob Ali has been given the home ministry, and MLA Pocaharam Srinivas Reddy, who was the agriculture minister in the previous government, was elected as the speaker in the Telangana assembly’s session that took place from 17 to 20 January. It is also to be seen whether KCR’s nephew and Siddipet MLA T. Harish Rao, who is a strong leader, retains the irrigation and agriculture marketing portfolio which he held last time.
However, this long delay in naming his ministers is not unexpected and a deviation from his usual self. Rao, who is known to be religious and superstitious, never entered the state secretariat during his first stint as chief minister. While party leaders maintain this is because buildings in the premises are not fire safety compliant, political analysts and opposition leaders attribute it to the secretariat’s “bad Vaastu".
“Harish Rao is most likely not going to be part of the cabinet and the most interesting thing is to see who gets the portfolio he previously held. They have basically prepared this cabinet in detail, cleared all the hurdles in the TRS, hence this long delay. Some of the ministers who earlier were part of the previous cabinet probably won’t find a place again. It might be a younger cabinet, basically which KTR can work with," opined political analyst Palwai Raghavendra Reddy.