A couple of days before the Andhra Pradesh assembly is to begin a debate on the bifurcation bill, a cabinet minister from Telangana region was Tuesday divested of the legislative affairs portfolio.
Civil Supplies Minister D. Sridhar Babu, a supporter of a separate Telangana state, was also holding the legislative affairs portfolio.
In a move which evoked strong reaction from Telangana leaders, Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy handed over the legislative affairs portfolio to Primary Education Minister S. Sailajanath.
Sailajanath is heading a group of Congress leaders from Seemandhra region opposed to formation of a Telangana state. The commercial tax portfolio, which was held by the chief minister, has now been allotted to Sridhar Babu.
The change in legislative affairs portfolio is significant as the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill 2013 sent by President Pranab Mukherjee is to come up for debate in the assembly from Jan 3.
The chief minister, who is opposed to the state's bifurcation, was reportedly unhappy with Sridhar Babu for openly supporting the bill both in and outside the assembly.
Kiran Reddy also allotted the newly-created Telugu language development ministry to Tourism Minister Vatti Vasant Kumar.
Meanwhile, former chief of state Congress D. Srinivas has termed the change in Sridhar Babu's portfolio as undemocratic and appealed to the central leadership of the party to take serious note of this.
Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) chief K. Chandrasekhara Rao said this action by the chief minister would in no way stall the process of formation of Telangana state as under the Constitution, the state legislature has no say in bifurcation of the state.