Jagan bites bullet, risks Cabinet rejig

CM Jagan

Rama Krishna Sangem

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy is taking a political risk by going for a massive reshuffle of his 35-  month old Cabinet. We are calling it biting the bullet (meaning taking a risk for a bigger purpose) because of his hunch feeling that the reshuffle will help him win the next assembly elections 25 months away, April/May 2024. The way he is doing the reshuffle is also a head turner, among the seniors in the Cabinet and the ruling party.

Jagan could have gone for a limited Cabinet reshuffle – by removing 5- or 6 ministers and adding an equal number. We at one stage thought that he has dropped the idea of changing the entire Cabinet after 2.5 years, by December 2021, as he told his ministerial colleagues in May 2019. But, he stuck to his word and geared up for a massive revamp.

Interestingly, he praised all his outgoing 25 ministers that they performed well in the last three years.

Changing the entire team of ministers is involved with some political risks. In 1989, then AP CM NT Rama Rao has sacked all 33 ministers of his Cabinet, including heavy weights like Jana Reddy and KE Krishnamoorthy. They were replaced with new faces like Madhava Reddy etc. NTR lost the subsequent elections a year later. Though Jagan’s move now is not comparable to that of late NTR, political risks from seniors are similar.

Now that CM Jagan set a date for his new team swearing in on April 11, Monday, the focus shifted to the fate of seniors and heavy weights like Botsa Satyanarayana, Peddireddy Ramachandra Reddy, Buggana Rajendranath Reddy and Kannababu. A massive Cabinet reshuffle always gives hope to new aspirant MLAs in any party. YSR Congress is no different. How many will get berths and how many not, is a question.

One major political risk here is if any of the seniors who are dropped will leave the party and defect to other parties, even just before the elections. Similarly, if any of the aspirants who fail to get a minister post will quit the party. My talks with a sections of sources in the YSR Congress indicate there is no such possibility, at least for now. We have to see the full list of new team by April 11 afternoon.

CM Jagan has chosen a manner in which he is doing this reshuffle. He praised all the old ministers for their impressive work and told them that their services will be used for the party. He also told them that they will be respected with due protocol facilities like making them heads of proposed district development councils etc. Some of them will be made district party presidents too. So, not many will feel insulted or sidelined.

Jagan openly told his outgoing ministerial colleagues that his priority now is to defeat Chandrababu Naidu led TDP. “If we can defeat Chandrababu and his adopted son (he means Jana Sena chief Pawan Kalyan) in 2024, we will have no problem after that,” Jagan is reported to have said. Jagan is supremely confident of his welfare schemes and infrastructure development in education and health will help him win votes in 2024.    

Priority to Social Justice

Sources say, this time Jagan may give preference to SC/ST/BC and minorities. The share of Reddys and Kapus may come down by at least one each minister- from 4 to 3. Women may retain the same number.

Speaker Tammineni Sitaram may be taken into the Cabinet. Seniors like Botsa Satyanarayana and Peddireddy Ramachandra Reddy may be retained while a few others Venugopala Krishna (from Setti Balija community), Jairam (Boya) and Ranghanatha Raju (Kshatriya) may continue, because of their community background.

“There may not be any representation of Vaishya or Brahmin communities this time. Seniors like Kodali Nani (from Kammas) and Perni Nani (a Kapu) may be in the new team too,” a  political observer told Excel India. Outgoing Deputy CM Pushpa Sreevani is likely to be the Assembly deputy speaker. The new ministers will be mostly from newly formed districts, he said. Overall size might be around 25, like in the ealirer.

All eyes on Roja & Rambabu

Now, the speculation on the new faces is mostly on Nagari MLA RK Roja and Sattenapalli MLA Ambati Rambabu. These two are with Jagan right from the party formation 10 years ago and haven taken on TDP supremo Chandrababu Naidu. 49 year old heroine turned politician Roja expected a Cabinet berth three years ago. She was disappointed and went into sulking over her exclusion from the ministers list.

Later, she was made the chairman of AP industrial infrastructure development corporation (APIIC). But, she lost that post too, as MLAs were excluded from heading the corporations. Now, she is a top aspirant for a ministerial berth. So is the case with 63 year old Rambabu. He too is expecting a post in the Jagan Cabinet. Both Roja and Ramababu are staunch loyalists of late YS Rajasekhara Reddy.

It is to be seen, if they can make it to the list of new ministers that goes to Governor Biswabhushan Harichandan on April 10, Sunday, auspicious Srirama Navami. The Governor may appoint them as ministers on April 10 night and invite them to take oath of office and secrecy in the day next. 

Interestingly, Jagan is consulting only his Chief Adviser Sajjala Ramakrishna Reddy on the Cabinet formation. None of the outgoing senior ministers is confident of rejoining the Cabinet. This shows Jagan’s unassailable supremacy in the ruling YSR Congress. He shared his Cabinet reshuffle plans with PM Narendra Modi when met Delhi early this week. Jagan wants to fight the next elections on the plank of social justice and welfare schemes, it appears.

Rama Krishna Sangem

Ramakrishna chief editor of excel India online magazine and website

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