Hyderabad, Oct. 28: Today’s Union ministry shuffle handed Andhra Pradesh five new ministers and an extra cabinet berth, with Congress sources suggesting the bonanza was given with an eye on the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
The “Diwali gift” has prepared the party to take on the “triple threat” from the Telangana agitation, Jaganmohan Reddy and the Telugu Desam in a state that was key to the Congress’s 2004 and 2009 successes, state unit chief Botsa Satyanarayana said.
Andhra Pradesh’s tally in the Union ministry has now reached an all-time high of 11, beating the seven berths the state had in the 1991-96 government of son-of-the-soil P.V. Narasimha Rao. The new inductees are Sarvey Sathyanarayana, P. Balram Naik (both from Telangana), K. Chiranjeevi, Kruparani Killi (both from the coasts) and K.J. Surya Prakash Reddy (Rayalaseema).
M.M. Pallam Raju has been elevated from junior minister to cabinet rank, and a similar promotion for N.T. Rama Rao’s daughter D. Purandeswari was stalled at the last minute to appease aggrieved senior MPs from the coasts.
Purandeswari was to be made cabinet minister for commerce and industry to try and distance the NTR family from the Telugu Desam. However, the idea was dropped after Kavuri Sambashiva Rao threatened to resign as MP and Rayapati Sambashiva Rao issued a statement of protest. Sathyanarayana and Naik have received their berths so that they continue to stay loyal to the government and do not join the statehood bandwagon.
Suryaprakash Reddy has been inducted because his family are arch-rivals of the YSR clan. The objective is to check the rise of Jaganmohan Reddy and stem an anticipated exodus from the Rayalaseema Congress to Jagan’s party before the next general election.