The ruling Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in Andhra Pradesh is looking ahead with hope in the dark for a dawn to say happy days are here again. The party is facing crisis that is mounting day after day. It would be more appropriate if we can say election after election.
In the recent general Assembly elections, somehow the TDP managed to regain control over the state government reigns with a great difficulty and dropped majority, compared to earlier elections. Subsequently, it suffered another blow in the local bodies elections conducted later. The impact of the anti-power tariff hike agitation led by the Congress and the Communists did carry a long way. Voters kept their stamp ready waiting for an opportunity to teach a lesson to the ruling party and exercised their franchise in the local bodies elections.
Eventually, Telugu Desam Party even after convening various review meetings could not catch the right vein as to why the party was developing gap with the people. Among the reasons critics evaluate for the party to lose considerately included, leaving the hands of Communists. The poor, minority and downtrodden besides many other communities that stand with the lefts are obviously not behind Telugu Desam once it left the Lefts. In addition to this, with the ‘time bound’ political calculations Telugu Desam joined with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which also raised the trouble waters for both the parties.
The said to be anti-people, anti-worker promulgations of the NDA government at the Centre headed by BJP had their own share on ill impact on the results in these successive elections. The present President of the party and Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu is unable to make up with the vacuum with the demise of the TDP founder president N T Rama Rao. NTR and his charm were instrumental in bringing the tiny nine-month young party to power in the state.
Of course, Chandrababu never left any stone unturned with his ever-busy working schedules. He and his functioning ‘styles’ impressed global personalities like American president Bill Clinton, United Nations general secretary Kofi Annan and many others and made them to pay a designated visit to Andhra Pradesh, especially Hyderabad.
Finally, Chandrababu could sense that the foundations of the party at the grass root levels weakened, initiated moves to re-strengthen them. With the decline in the vote percentage the loyalty in the party leaders and cadres towards the top brass is steeply falling.
Lack of minimum support price to agricultural produces, growing unemployment, influence of international happenings, and mounting criticism on TDP governance that it is implementing the World Bank and International Monetary Fund sanctions added fuel to the raging fire in the state voters. There by a drop in reputation of the ruling party is also noticed by the political analysts.
In the general elections to the state Assembly, Chandrababu attracted new faced to the political arena through ‘Praja Deevena’ (people’s blessings) programme. He gave tickets to these fresh faces to contest and made them win. Later, he gave berths in the cabinet to some of the new faces too. Hardly a handful count of these new ministers could manage in discharging their responsibilities properly. However, there were strong comments that some of the ministers were highly corrupted and some others are inefficient in holding the given portfolio.
A running commentary from the opposition and some of the ruling party members was being heard that Chandrababu was holding all the rights and powers in his hand. The administration is being done through officials sidelining the ministers, added the criticism. There is also mention about cutting down the prominence to women in the party activities, as well in providing berths in the cabinet. Removal of women ministers Dr S Aruna, J Lakshmi Padmavathi, K Pushpa Leela from the cabinet on November 25th and not giving opportunity to women in their places adds strength to this criticism.
It is the test of time, with all the fore happenings, whether the reconstitution of the ministry can add to the reputation of the ruling party or give some political mileage or not with the induction of senior members. Chandrababu’s next attempt to appease the dissatisfied legislators of his party by further reorganisation of the cabinet, is also a test of time. The people of the state have only option, to wait and see whether the advise of the Chief Minister to his cabinet colleagues for a crystal clear governance and getting close to people.
One mention is needed in this regard. Telugu Desam Party can regain the grounds already lost, only if the Chief Minister and the Party President N Chandrababu Naidu change his ‘style’ to give weightage to the words of legislators and execute his official responsibilities in a much better manner in the interest of the people. Cabinet reshuffle kindles the dissatisfaction volcano, again in TDP
In an attempt to re-establish the falling image of the party, oil the machinery for the next assembly elections Chandrababu Naidu worked out with all the available statistics stored in his computer for the cabinet reshuffle. He had a series of discussions with leaders and legislators of the party before announcing the new list with additions and deductions. All this exercise proved to be futile for the president of the party, as there were many reactions, dissatisfactions, and fury over the changes into open.
Leaders of various district units of the party, who kept hopes that ‘their’ legislators will be inducted into the cabinet were taken aback not finding their favourites names in the final list. Unlike earlier episodes, almost all of them came to media expressing their anguish.
Among the deductions three were women, Dr Sanakkayala Aruna (Guntur), J Lakshmi Padmavathi (Prakasham), K Pushpa Leela (Ranga Reddy) in addition to N Siva Prasad belonging to Chief Minister’s home district Chittoor, C Krishna Yadav (Himayath Nagar of Hyderabad), E Peddi Reddy (Karimnagar), A Prabhakar Reddy (Nellore) and Alapati Rajendra Prasad (Guntur) were removed from cabinet.
Eleven members were included in the place of eight removals. Six among them were given cabinet rank and the rest ministers of state. The cabinet ranked ministers are, Bojjala Gopala Krishna Reddy (Nellore), J R Pushpa Raj (Guntur), P Rama Subba Reddy (Cuddapah), Dr Kodela Siva Prasada Rao (Guntur), and T Srinivasa Yadav (Hyderabad).
The five others are, D Anjaneyulu (Prakasham), M Damodar Reddy (Karim Nagar), Suddala Devaiah (Karim Nagar), P Narayana Swamy Naidu (Vizia Nagaram), and P Ramulu (Mahboobnagar). The present cabinet is a mixture of 17 representatives from Andhra region, 15 from Telangana region and seven from Rayalaseema region.
After losing positions Alapati Rajendra Prasad and Dr N Siva Prasad vacated their official accommodation speechlessly. Where as E Peddi Reddy of Karim Nagar, convened a press conference and questioned the Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu the reason behind removing him from the cabinet. The situation is to be taken cool, as expression of pleasure from the newly inducted and agony from the removed from are very common every time. Still, there was no such practice in Telugu Desam Party until now for the representatives to convene media meetings or some other meetings to get their anger noted by the people and the leadership. This is replicating the age-old practice and culture of main opposition in the House, Congress.
The ministers should keep in mind that persons taking oath as ministers of the state, should take care of the interest of the state as a whole, not restrict themselves to a particular district, a region or a community. The selection of legislators for cabinet berths had been always a replica of the Congress functioning system even in the Telugu Desam governance. Several occasions could be spotted that the selection criterion had rested to be caste, religion, district, or region to offer induction into the cabinet. The same trend is adopted this time too.
Of course, it is not a simple task for the Chief Minister to form a balancing ministry. However, it may not be possible for the chief of the party of head of the cabinet to satisfy all the communities, coteries, regions and some times efficient persons may also be ignored in the process. The people elected most of the candidates that joined the Telugu Desam Party and received tickets to contest through Praja Deevena. Among the first timers to the political arena, some were given opportunity to serve the state as ministers that include former Health, family welfare minister Dr Sanakkayala Aruna, former Social Welfare minister K Pushpa Leela and former Roads and Buildings minister K Vijaya Rama Rao.
The Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu explained that the ministers who utterly failed in leading the party to victory in the recent local bodies elections were removed from the cabinet and fixing some efficiency bar others were taken in.
Leaders furious on Devender, Yerram, Yanamala and Prabhakar
Comments and statements soared high after the cabinet reshuffle against the Chief Minister and some other leaders and representatives from the party. The dissatisfied blamed Chief Minister to be unable to take independent decision. Legislators of various districts spoke in the open that Home Minister Devender Goud, Finance Minister Yanamala Rama Krishnudu, Telugu Desam Parliamentary Party leader Yerram Naidu and Rajya Sabha member P Prabhakar Reddy, who also owns Viceroy Hotel, pressurised the Chief Minister and stalled him from giving an opportunity to them.
Legislators from Ranga Reddy district K Harishwar Reddy (Pargi), Mahender Reddy (Tandur), and Chandra Sekhar (Vikarabad) in the jointly and severally descended on Home Minister Devender Goud. Their allegation was after removal of Pushpa Leela, Devender desired not to have any problem to his supremacy in the district and blocked the ways of Chief Minister from giving any opening to the district legislators.
Dadi Veerabhadra Rao (Visakhapatnam district) through media charged that he was in the right looks of the Chief Minister, but Yerram Naidu hampered the chances. He furthered that the Visakha district position was given away to the present minister Ch Ayyanna Pathrudu, who was not a local candidate. Rao warned that in future such mal allocations would not be tolerated.
Roumers spread that Finance Minister Yanamala Rama Krishnudu was responsible for Kapu community leader of East Godavari district, Jyothula Venkata Appa Rao (Nehru) to forgo his prospect to the ministry. There were discussions that even Lok Sabha Speaker G M C Balayogi put pressure on Chandrababu for not giving Nehru any chance. The duo worked against Nehru to upkeep their control on the district, the critics say. Point to ponder over here is that Nehru did not make any comment upon these developments.
A glance at Guntur district makes one believe that Chief Minister is in search of a ‘powerful’ candidate who can ‘guide’ the party to victory in the district in the next general elections. He selected Dr Kodela Siva Prasada Rao from the district removing Alapati Rajendra Prasad. The incident of bomb explosions in the residence of Dr Kodela flashes to everyone immediately after someone takes his name, during the previous general elections to the state Assembly. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probed the case and gave a clean chit to Dr Kodela. Chandrababu must be of the opinion that a candidate having a clean chit from the central police organisation can be given a berth in his ministry and there will be no controversies about it. The efficiency mark of Alapati could not help him from saving his seat.
To avoid confrontation between the two strong leaders of Kamma community of Guntur district, Chandrababu is said to have given chance to Dr Kodela this time removing Alapati. Irrespective of bomb explosions, Dr Kodela is termed in the district as a powerful leader who can lead the party close to victory. Dr Sanakkayala Aruna belonging to the same district, who is a neutral and fresh entrant into the arena, was given charge of medical and health ministry after the elections. With regular intervals corruption charges were levelled on the medical and health department and ministry, continuously for two years.
J R Pushpa Raj was offered a ministry this time to attract the downtrodden and Dalit communities of the Coastal Andhra. He had a small experience as minister in NTR’s cabinet earlier.
Confusion prevailed about whom to select from Prakasham district after removing commercial taxes minister J Lakshmi Padmavathi. Even after a long deliberation the district unit of the party could not arrive at a consensus. The result was D Anjaneyulu getting a state rank portfolio. Even this ministry was encircled with graft allegations that made Padmavathi lose her portfolio. Padmavathi thanked the Chief Minister for giving her an opportunity and simply stated that as the time for giving opportunity to someone else she was removed, that’s all.
There were several appeals from Nellore district to continue Adala Prabhakar Reddy from the district. Chief Minister did not heed to their pleas and removed Adala. Immediately there was a tough competition between Nallappa Reddy Srinivasula Reddy’s son Sravan Prasanna Kumar Reddy and nephew S Chandra Mohan Reddy for a berth in the ministry. Chandra Mohan was favoured for selection by Chief Minister as Mohan had a prior experience as CMEY minister. It is also a view of the Chief Minister that Mohan would be useful for the party in the district and handed over Information and Public Relations to him.
Prasanna Kumar Reddy went ‘hot’ on the offer extended to Mohan. Viceroy Hotel owner and Rajya Sabha member P Prabhakar and others intervened into the situation and made Prasanna ‘cool’ on the issue. Later, Prasanna clarified that he would never cooperate with Mohan, but work for the party’s interests. It is also learnt that Adala and other legislators of the district are amid an ocean of dissatisfaction.
Bojjala opted for development of party in Chittoor
The ruling party suffered many strokes in Chittoor district despite being home district of the Chief Minister. The results were same both in assembly and local bodies elections. It is believed that Chief Minister worked in consolidating the party’s position and strengthen its roots in the district by looking courteously at Dalits and Reddy communities. This was inevitable as the party was gradually losing almost everything and Congress is gaining all the ground. Hence, Bojjala Gopala Krishna Reddy was inducted.
There is another reason attributed for Bojjala to get to ministry. After keeping all the hopes Bojjala was not given a chance in the first ministry after elections. He was keeping himself away from party affairs. To utilise the services of this efficient worker of the district, Chief Minister opted him keeping in view development of the party in the district. He was elected from Sri Kala Hasthi constituency.
Looking at Ananthapur district, Nimmala Kishtappa is having no threat to his seat at all, critics say. Kishtappa belonging to weaker sections of the district is known as unbiased and uncontroversial besides capable of taking the party in the right direction. Observers state that at one stage, Singanamala legislator and former minister Jaya Ram was on the selection cards to replace Kishtappa. Alternative analyses of the Chief Minister revealed that though Jaya Ram is also not a disputed person, he is not efficient on par with Kishtappa and was not extended any invitation.
In Cuddapah, home district of Congress Legislature Party Dr Y S Rajasekhar Reddy, the prospects of Telugu Desam are not promising. The right filling after B Veera Reddy’s demise was in rounds of discussions and deliberations. First an inclination towards attracting minorities offering Jaleel Pasha was seen. Later, it is stated to be P Rama Subba Reddy representing Jammala Madugu considered taking into the community factor. This was needed to counter Dr Y S Rajasekhar Reddy’s ‘force’ in the district. Here it is again a wait and see for the result, to what extent other groups of the district unit cooperate with him for the task assigned by the Chief Minister.
Kurnool crumbles with dissidence
The political analysts about Kurnool district, the gateway for Rayalaseema region, worked out many equations, permutations, and combinations. Three ministers B V Mohan Reddy, K E Prabhakar, and N Md Farooq are representing from the region. The combination and equation makers believed that at least one of the three would be removed based on the caste and religion balances formula.
Later, it was estimated that transport minister B V Mohan Reddy would be replaced with Sobha Nagi Reddy (Alla Gadda). Sobha is daughter of former minister S V Subba Reddy and spouse of Nandyal parliamentarian Bhooma Nagi Reddy. Mohan Reddy is having a remark about inefficiency in handling the 24-day long strike of the RTC workers and employees. Replacement with Sobha might have balanced both Reddy community and women categories simultaneously. S V Subba Reddy was removed earlier from the ministry and was anticipating a berth in the cabinet at least for his daughter. As she was not given any, both S V Subba Reddy and Bhooma Nagi Reddy are furious on the party president.
It is believed that the Telugu Desam high command is contemplating to appease all the three, Sobha, Subba, and Bhooma with a nominated chairperson position.
Talasani re-entry, targeting Baldia elections
TDP is said to be decided for clinching the Mayor seat of Municipal Corporation of Hyderabad (MCH / Baldia) at any cost. In this process, Krishna Yadav holding labour portfolio was sidelines and Secunderabad legislator Talasani Srinivasa Yadav was inducted into the ministry targeting the Baldia elections.
The ruling party desires to cash in on the developmental activities it took up in the twin cities. Widening of roads, beautification projects, transforming Hyderabad into a information technology hub on the global map, and many others. Chandrababu is strongly keeping hopes on these elements for a mileage in the ensuing elections to Baldia, which are taking place after a decade and a half period. This is said to be reason behind taking ‘aggressive’ Talasani, who is a former minister.
Pogugunta Ramulu from Mahboob Nagar district is taken in as state minister for sports and youth services in spite of the presence of Dr Nagam Janardhan Reddy and P Chandra Sekhar (both BCs and from Mahboob Nagar district). Chandra Sekhar is continuing as Law minister while Dr Nagam was shifted from civil supplies to medical and health. At one stage, it was heard that either Nagesh or Bode Janardhan might be selected from Adilabad. As the political equations did not workout the proposal was dropped. Shortly, Janardhan may be offered a corporation chairperson position.
Damodar Reddy to counter TRS!
The reshuffle process was utilised for countering the influence of Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) by Chandrababu. It is known fact that former minister and deputy speaker of the House K Chandra Sekhar chipped off from Telugu Desam and founded TRS. As E Peddi Reddy was unable to gain ground for the party in the local bodies elections, he was sent off. TRS clinched maximum seats in Huzoorabad Assembly segment during the local bodies polls.
To counter the TRS wave in the region, Muddasani Damodar Reddy and Suddala Devaiah, both from Karim Nagar were given a chance. Damodar is known for his hold on the district unit while Suddala was for attracting the Mala community that was gradually inclining towards Congress.
Word spread that either Muthyam Reddy (Dommata) or cine actor Babu Mohan (won twice from Andol – SC) might receive a call from the Chief Minister, from Medak district. Eventually, it was decided to continue Karanam Ramachandra Rao, as he not having any groups or coteries in the district unit.
There is a chance for Muthyam Reddy for deputy speaker’s position if it was not thought for minorities. Yousuf Ali (Kama Reddy of Nizamabad district) did not get any offer though there were some roumers. This is due Mandava Venkateshwara Rao and V Srinivasa Reddy are in the cabinet and are continuing. In this fixing Yousuf Ali may be considered for deputy speaker.
In the final tally, after the reshuffle, one legislator each from 11 districts, two each from nine district and three each from Kurnool, Mahboob Nagar, and West Godavari are in the cabinet.
Major share for BCs and Reddys?
The size of the cabinet reached to 39 after the shuffle. Of 39, 11 members belong to Backward Castes. The Reddy community is standing next to BCs in sharing the cabinet quantity. Two Reddys were sent away and four were admitted. Two SCs were removed and three were taken in, one BC discharged and two admitted.
Five each from Kamma and SC, two each from Kapu, Velama, and Kshatriya communities are representing distinctively in the ministry. From among the Backward Classes two each from Gouda, Golla and one each from Munnuru Kapu, Thurpu Kapu, Koppula Velama, Bestha, Mudiraj, and Padmasali were selected. Out of five SC ministers one belong to Mala and four to Madiga groups while one ST is also in the cabinet.
Key portfolios to BCs
Most of the key portfolios are resting in the hands of BC ministers after the reshuffle. Kadiyam Sri Hari (Warangal) is handling major irrigation where as home and finance are already in BCs hands.
Among the persons who was with high hopes for receiving an invitation was government chief whip and renowned Velama community leader Yerrabelli Dayakar Rao. For one or the other reason he was not extended any invitation, as usual the Dayakar Rao’s camp is ‘hot’ with dissatisfaction.
New ministers to prove their mettle
Dr Kodela Siva Prasada Rao, B Gopala Krishna Reddy, S Chandra Mohan Reddy, M Damodar Reddy, V Rama Subba Reddy, D Anjaneyulu, Srinivasa Yadav, and P Ramulu greeted their Chief Minister for vesting confidence in them and declared that they would prove their mettle in handling their concerned ministries.
Allegations sprouted that Chief Minister had not given prominence to the Kapu community in the Krishna and Guntur districts proportionately. A similar voice was head from Rayalaseema from Balija community leaders. Rajya Sabha member and former general secretary of the party C Ramachandraiah criticised that Chief Minister was sending them to Balija community population during elections and when it comes to catering of ministerial positions he was not justifying.
The sorry state of the state politics is that every leader speaks about their own communities, castes, and religions. No one is bothered to speak or argue for comprehensive and concrete schemes for development. They seem to be aloof of the society for not thinking about welfare of the people below the poverty line, generalised development schemes and so on. What a pity? By the way, who should be shown mercy?
Big brother warns younger ones’, “do not cross your limits”
Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu told the legislators and their supporters who could not have a chance in the ministry to stop doing things that would go against the party’s reputation and discipline. Open statements, criticisms, and demonstrations by the dissatisfied will not solve any issue, in case there is any problem they should directly approach him and discuss across the table for a solution, he added in his advice. Any work taken up contrary would hamper the image and development of the party, he regretted.
He explained the representatives of the party to bear with him as he is interested in selecting a team that is more efficient and cooperate with him to extend a good and clean governance to the people. It does not mean that the persons who did not get any offer or those who were removed should never keep a thought that they are unfit. The equations and combinations for ‘balancing’ many factors like caste, community, and religion along with the region resulted in selecting the present list of members for induction into the ministry, he reiterated.
Though it was a natural reaction from the persons who lost their seats, and from those who anticipated an offer in vain, would have heartburn. However, he warned with a commanding tone that any legislator or their supporters or activists of the party would not be spared if they resorted to function against the party’s interests and welfare.
In addition to this warning, Chief Minister and President of the Telugu Desam Party shouldered the responsibility of appeasing the dissatisfied and scorching dissidence groups. All those that would not turn around and work collectively in the interest of the party ‘will have a bearing to be exposed to disciplinary action’ was the final word of President of the party and Chief Minister of the Andhra Pradesh Government. Thus, was the warning from the ‘big brother’ to his ‘younger ones’.
Ministers and their portfolios
- N Chandrababu Naidu – Chief Minister, General Administration and all other portfolios not allocated to ministers.
- P Ashok Gajapathi Raju – Revenue, Relief and Rehabilitation.
- Y Rama Krishnudu – Finance, Planning, Lotteries and Assembly Affairs.
- T Devender Goud – Home, Jails, Fire, NCC, Sainik Welfare, Cinematography and Film Development.
- K Vidyadhara Rao – Industries.
- N Md Farooq – Municipal, Urban Development, Minority Welfare, Urdu Academy and Wakf.
- S Chandra Mohan Reddy – Information and Public Relations.
- B Gopala Krishna Reddy – Employment creation, Small Scale, Khadi, Village industries, Information Technology, DWCRA and LIDCAP.
- B V Mohan Reddy – Transport.
- Thummala Nageshwara Rao – Roads and Buildings.
- J R Pushpa Raj – Social Welfare.
- K E Prabhakar – Minor Irrigation.
- Ch Ramachandra Rao – Cooperation.
- P Rama Subba Reddy – Housing.
- S Saraswathi – Women welfare and Child development.
- Karanam Ramachandra Rao – Higher Education.
- Dr. N Janardhan Reddy – Medical, Health Services and Family Welfare.
- P Chandra Sekhar – Law and Courts.
- Dr Kodela siva Prasada Rao – Food, Civil Supplies.
- Thammineni Seetharam – Prohibition and Excise.
- Dandu Sivarama Raju – Endowments.
- Vadde Sobhanadreeshwar Rao – Agriculture.
- Kadiyam Sri Hari – Major and Medium Irrigation.
- Pocharam Srinivasa Reddy – Panchayathi Raj, Rural Development and Rural Water Supply.
- T Srinivasa Yadav – Tourism and cultural affairs.
- K Subba Rayudu – Power.
- K Vijaya Rama Rao – Commercial Taxes.
- Mandava Venkateshwara Rao – School Education, Museums, Libraries, and Archaeology.
- Uma Madhava Reddy – Mines and Geology.
State ministers with independent charge
- Suddala Devaiah – Labour.
- P Ramulu – Sports, Youth Services and CMEY.
- D Anjaneyulu – Marketing and Godowns.
- N Narasimha Rao – Backward Classes Welfare, and Fisheries.
- M Damodar Reddy – Technical education and training.
- Padala Bhoomanna – Handlooms, Yarn industries, Printing and Stationery.
- M Mani Kumari – Tribal and Handicapped Welfare.
- P Narayana Swamy Naidu – Sugar, Industries and Fruit gardens.
- Nimmala Kishtappa – Animal Husbandary
By P. Damodar Prasad