- Kammas, Rajus, Brhamins, Vysyas ignored
- BCs, SCs get lion’s share
- All ministers take oath on Monday
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy has gone for an election gamble in reorganizing his Cabinet. The central idea or assumption behind the rejig of his ministry was that people vote according to communities. Whether it was Prashant Kishor’s idea or Jagan Mohan Reddy’s own calculations, this theory might backfire. All the ministers were given oath by Governor Bishwabhushan Harichadan with a smiling Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy sitting on his side on Monday. The CM did not look nervous.
There are eight ministers from the so called forward castes, ten from BCs, five from SCs, one each from STs and Muslims in the twenty five member new cabinet. Major communities that were not given representation were Kammas and Rajus. Eleven old ministers would continue and 14 new ministers have stepped in. When Jagan Mohan Reddy took oath as Chief Minister in 2019, he said about 90 percent of the cabinet will be replaced by new faces. Then as the day of reorganization approached, the number of ministers to be retained was said to be five or six. At the end of the exercise, the CM had to willy-nilly keep eleven ministers from the old Cabinet. To that extent one can say he was under pressure.
Strong ministers like Peddireddi Ramachandra Reddy and Botsa Satyanarayana and talented ones such as Buggana Rajendranath Reddy had to be retained. Sidiri Appala Raju, Taneti Vanitha, Amjad Basha, Pinipe Viswaroop, Gummanuru Jayaram, Adimulapu Suresh, Chelluboyina Venugopal, Narayana Swamy stayed because the Chief Minister could not find suitable persons to replace them taking into considerations factors such as caste, region and religion. All the three Nanis – Kodali, Perni, Alla are out of the new Cabinet. Kodali Nani, a Kamma, might be given some chairmanship of a corporation.
Even as the ministers were taking oath, the TV channels were flashing reports of Balineni Srinivasa Reddy, former minister, being upset and Sucharita, MLA, resigning from the party. Venkataramana, Rajya Sabha Member, went to the house of Kolusu Parthasarathi to explain the decision to keep him out of the Cabinet. Sucharita said she will be staying in the YSRCP and would remain loyal to Jagan Mohan Reddy. Balineni’s supporters were curtly told by the all-important advisor to the CM, Sajjala Ramakrshna Reddy to not to provoke Balineni into taking an emotional decision. The fires may be extinguished and the ministers who lost their jobs and those aspirants who were disappointed may reconcile in the course of time. But the impression gained by the people would certainly matter. Leaving out some communities altogether may not be the right approach. Kammas and Rajus, at least, should have been given token representation to signal that the CM is not against any particular community.
While some districts are going without representation, some old districts like Chittoor, East Godavari, West Godavari and Guntur got overrepresented. Each of the four districts has three ministers. Chittoor has Peddireddy Ramachandra Reddy, K. Narayana Swamy and Roja. East Godavari has Pinise Viswaroop, Dadisetty Raja, Chelluboyina Venugopalakrishna, West Godavari is represented by Taneti Vanita, Kottu Satyanarayana, Karumuri Nageswara Rao while Guntur has Ambati Rambabu, Vidadala Rajani, Meruga Nagarjuna.
It seems Bothsa Satyanarayana’s views were given importance. His friends and followers such as Chelluboyina Venugopalkrishna, Pidika Rajanna Dora, Gudivada Amarnath were given berths. Even Karumuri Nageswara Rao and Dadisetti Raja also could be seen as close to Bothsa. Speaker Tammineni Sitaram, who has been an aspirant of a ministerial berth is another broken heart. From Sirkakulam, senior leader Dharmana Prasada Rao was given a berth in place of his brother Krishna Das and Appalaraju was retained.
Jagan Mohan Reddy should be complimented for limiting the number of ministers from Reddy community. His calculations that all Kamma voters would vote for Chandrababu may not be right. At the same time all BCs may not vote for YSRCP in spite of the ten ministrial berths. Same way Jagan’s bête noire Raghurama Krishnam Raju does not represent all the Kshatriyas. Ashok Gajapati Raju of TDP is identified only with Vijayanagaram. Kshatriyas of West Godavari district don’t have any relationship with him. Kapus also did not get the usual representation they get in any ministry. They are supposed to be antagonistic towards SCs, BCs and other communities in the district in which they are dominant. Brahmins and Vysyas may be smaller in number. Together they may not be even four percent of the AP population. But they are in live touch with people of all communities. They are vocal and their opinion is respected by people in general. It may not be right to calculate on basis of assumptions of voting behaviour of the people. Whether this kind of calculations stand the test of election would be known only in 2024. Then it would be too late to make any corrections. That was why it seemed as though Jagan Mohan Reddy has gone for a gamble.