The buzz on the ground floor of the D block fo the Secretariat on Thursday morning was difficult to miss though it was a bit muted.
Roads and buildings minister Dharmana Prasada Rao, who kept himself away from office for nearly six months, was sitting in his chambers, reviewing the proposals by his department. He has to present them to the chief minister on Friday, along with his department’s requirement of funds in the state budget for the next financial year.
Visitors were few as his arrival was unannounced. Srikakulam District Cooperative Marketing Society president Gondu Krishna Murthy and DCCB president Dola Jagan called on him, but their visit was only to thank him for their victory. They inquired how he was feeling now, after being away from work for months. “I am quite fine,” was the reticent reply from the minister.
Dharmana appeared his normal self while reviewing the department’s proposals. His staff were happy that he was back in office. “I am happy our minister returned to work after a long gap,” said his officer on special duty D Vizai Bhaskar.
The minister, after the CBI named him in the Vanpic scam charge-sheet on August 14 last year, resigned and did not visit his office ever since. Though his resignation has not been accepted, Dharmana was reluctant to attend to his duties. After much cajoling by his colleagues, he said that he would return to work if the chief minister gave a public acknowledgement that he was not guilty.
Though the chief minister did not exonerate him by making a public announcement that Dharmana was innocent, the very fact the did not forward the minister’s resignation to the Governor conveyed the message to him that he was not a persona non grata.
The first official meeting that Dharmana took part after resignation was a review of the activities of the National Academy of Construction, at the chief minister’s office in the C block about a fortnight ago. Dharmana drove straight to the C block and after the review left the Secretariat without visiting his office.
Dharmana, who called on the chief minister a couple of days ago at his camp office, is understood to have agreed to resume duty when Kiran Reddy sought to know why he was not back at work in the Secretariat. Accordingly, Dharmana drove to D block on Thursday quietly without any fanfare. Only the officials of his department--principal secretary (R&B) SP Singh and other officials--and a couple of people’s representatives from his district knew about his arrival.
The minister reviewed the proposal for the construction of 140 flats at the old MLA quarters for accommodating the members of the Assembly who are yet to be shown their official quarters, new buildings for the collectorates at Nellore, Anantpur and Srikakulam and enumeration of bridges and culverts that needed repairs and maintenance immediately. “We have to rise to the expectations of the chief minister,” the minister is reported to have told his officials.
After the review, the minister left the Secretariat as quietly as he came.