More than two months after he took oath as the chief minister of Telangana for a second term, Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) chief K. Chandrashekar Rao, or KCR, on Tuesday expanded his two-member cabinet by inducting 10 legislators. While four ministers were members of the last cabinet, six are new faces.
KCR’s son K.T. Rama Rao (KTR), however, did not find a place in the cabinet. TRS leaders said he will work to strengthen the party ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha polls. Interestingly, KCR’s nephew T. Harish Rao, who was the irrigation minister in the previous cabinet and is known to be a powerful leader, was also denied a berth. The cabinet does not have a woman minister, something that KCR was criticized for earlier. Expectations of having a woman as the assembly speaker were also not addressed.
A senior TRS leader, who did not want to be named, said the cabinet will be fully expanded—to 18—after the national polls, when KTR is likely to be inducted. In the previous government, KTR held several portfolios, including IT, industries and commerce, mines and geology, public enterprise, NRI affairs, and municipal administration and urban development.
Eatala Rajender, who was the finance minister in the previous term, Indrakaran Reddy, Talasani Srinivas Yadav (who defected from Telugu Desam Party after the 2014 elections and was given a cabinet berth) and Jagdeesh Reddy were inducted on Tuesday. The six new faces include Singireddy Niranjan Reddy, Koppula Eshwar, Errabelli Dayakar Rao, Srinivas Goud, Vemula Prashanth Reddy and Ch. Malla Reddy.
“KCR is most likely to use Harish Rao for the Lok Sabha campaign extensively, which is why he may have kept him out," said another TRS functionary, also requesting anonymity. It was widely reported that Rao was unhappy with the elevation of KTR as the party’s working president, but he refuted the claims.
The TRS stormed to power in December 2018 with 88 of the 119 assembly seats. It defeated the Congress-led grand alliance, which included the TDP, Communist Party of India and the Telangana Jana Samithi (TJS). The Congress won just 19 seats, while the TDP won two.
“This is not a full-fledged cabinet, so they will engage Harish Rao more in the campaigning and he cannot do much till KCR is around. All the 10 people are KCR’s loyalists and this will help KTR in running the show later," said political analyst Palwai Raghavendra Reddy.