HYDERABAD: Though chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy could not get a green signal from the party high command for a full fledged cabinet reshuffle, he did get the freedom to take in the ministers he wanted. All the three MLAs inducted into his cabinet on Monday were his nominees.
Of them, N Uttam Kumar Reddy (Huzurnagar, Nalgonda) and G Prasad Kumar (Vikarabad, Rangareddy) filled two vacancies from the Telangana region while malas got additional representation with whip Kondru Murali Mohan (Rajam, Srikakulam) in the cabinet.
The chief minister also shuffled portfolios, giving Kondru Murali Mohan the medical education, 108 and 104 services portfolio after stripping Ravindra Reddy of the portfolio. G Prasada Kumar got Handlooms and Textiles which used to be handled by P Shankar Rao.
Uttam Kumar was given the housing portfolio that used to be handled by Kanna Lakshminarayana. The latter was given the agriculture portfolio, in an apparent move to cut deputy chief minister Damodar Rajanarasimha to size. The deputy CM used to handle the agriculture post. He was also not given the home portfolio that he desired.
With the induction of the three new members, the number of ministers in the cabinet rose to 41, including the chief minister, as against the maximum strength of 44. The three vacancies in Telangana region were created by the resignation of Jupalli Krishna Rao and Komatireddy Venkatareddy and the sacking of P Shankar Rao.
Kiran Kumar has also kept the caste equation in mind and has more than compensated the exit of Shankar Rao by taking two MLAs from the Mala sub-sect of the SCs.
With one Reddy out of the cabinet, that is Komatireddy Venakta Reddy, the chief minister took care to fill the post with another Reddy. There were two contenders for the post— Gandra Venkata Ramana Reddy (Warangal) and Uttam Kumar Reddy (Nalgonda). In fact, Venkata Ramana Reddy camped in Delhi as the chief minister held his confabulations with the high command. But Kiran Kumar finally chose Uttam Kumar who happens to be very close to him. Kiran Reddy is understood to have told Venkata Ramana that he would try to do justice to him at the next opportunity.
The surprise inclusion was whip Kondru Murali Mohan. Initially, it was felt that Murali Mohan would be promoted as the chief whip. But sources said that Murali Mohan was taken into the cabinet to assuage the miffed malas in the coastal districts who were hurt over the recent destruction of statues of BR Ambedkar in East Godavari district.
But even before Murali Mohan was sworn in, there was trouble in Srikakulam district with Boddepalli Satyavathi, who represents Amudalavalasa, threatening resignation. She said she was upset over the chief minister ignoring her, a BC leader, and choosing Murali Mohan. She said that she deserved to be in the cabinet since she was not only a BC, but also a woman, and would be perfect for the post vacated by Konda Surekha. Though the chief minister called her up and tried to make her see reason, she would not listen and said she would announce her final decision after a meeting with her workers.
Sources say that a major factor that weighed against Bhatti Vikramarka’s candidature was he would have to resign as deputy speaker.