By G. Krishna Mohan Rao*
The four-day suspense over the constitution of the new Cabinet in Andhra Pradesh will be put to rest on Monday, April 11, 2022, when Governor Biswa Bhushan Harichandan administers the oath of office to the new ministers. It was on April 7, that all the 24 Ministers of chief minister Yeduguri Sandinti Jagan Mohan Reddy’s cabinet submitted their resignations letters. Ever since Chief Minister Reddy has been engaged in the exercise of reconstituting the right composition of his cabinet.
Political circles feel that Reddy took up this exercise obviously with his eye and goal to retain power in the State, scheduled in April 2024. Having his own calculations and strategies, he is apparently taking a political gamble to reshuffle his entire cabinet and not just drop a few. On April 7, after holding a full cabinet meet, Jagan Reddy asked all his ministers to submit their resignations. It was not a sudden decision. Interestingly enough, a month before, that is in March, Chief Minister gave indications that he would be undertaking a mega exercise of a cabinet reshuffle.
Having come to power in April 2019, in the state assembly, the Jagan Reddy party -YSR Congress— enjoys huge support of about 150 MLAs in the total assembly of 175. Since Jagan Reddy revealed a month before to replace the entire team with another lot of 24 or more, the Ministers were reconciled to their fate. The chief minister tried to justify that he is undertaking the reshuffle after three years in office. Further, the Chief Minister tried to justify it by his formula that 50 MLAs would be getting a chance to work as Ministers and serve the people with commitment.
Though Jagan Reddy has complete sway over the party as well as Government, he is facing a lot of criticism from Opposition parties as well as from well-wishers that he is indulging in too much welfarism. His government is primarily focusing on the common man that is — people living below the poverty line or above the poverty line as they are being benefitted from various welfare schemes. Basic criticism is that the Reddy government is not aware or ignorant about how the State is mobilising funds running into crores in giving freebies or implementing various welfare schemes.
With the result, it is said that the debt burden of the state has gone up to Rs 6.5 lakh crores, with the YSR congress government itself getting loans totalling more than Rs 4 lakh crores. Government borrowings are at exorbitant interest rates. It is said that Government is selling away prime lands and public sector undertakings to bankroll welfare schemes. In other words, critics say that State’s long term interests are totally ignored at the expense of populism.
Coming back to the Cabinet reshuffle, Chief Minister Reddy seems to be happy to infuse new blood into the cabinet and at the same time remove the unwanted and underperformed Ministers. And in the process, the Chief Minister wants to overcome the anti-incumbency against his ministers’ performances. With the Chief Minister busy involved in the exercise for the last four days, sources say that Reddy is finding it difficult to pick his new team given the caste, regional and other factors.
All said and done, it is learnt, at least half a dozen Ministers of the outgoing cabinet could be reappointed as Ministers for various reasons. Retaining Finance Minister Buggana Rajendranath Reddy may be a compulsion given his deft handling of the State’s fiscal matters. Senior Minister for Municipal Administration, Botsa Satyanarayana could also be retained. He was a senior minister even in his father Y. S Raajshekhar Reddy’s cabinet. Similarly, Two other Ministers Perni Nani as well as Kodali Nani could be retained. Perni nani could be retained given his caste “ kapu” as Jagan Reddy rival Pawan Kalyan of Jana Sena Party also hails from Kapu caste. Another Minister Kodali Nani is known for his “attacks” and criticism of former chief minister Chandrababu Naidu, the main political rival of Jagan Reddy.
The chief minister had forwarded the resignations of his colleagues to the Governor on April 9 night. It is expected that the list of new ministers to be sworn in, would be sent to Governor tomorrow morning, a few hours before the oath.
*The writer is a senior journalist.