The recent Cabinet expansion in Telangana has caused dissent in the ranks of the TRS with senior party leaders and former ministers openly expressing their displeasure at being excluded by Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao.
On Sunday, KCR appointed six ministers including his son, KT Rama Rao and nephew T Harish Rao, thereby expanding the Cabinet from the existing 11 ministers to 17. However, the expansion has not gone smoothly, as former ministers Nayini Narasimha and T Rajaiah have openly criticised KCR.
Narasimha, one of the founding members of TRS, who served as the Home Minister in the first term of TRS, has accused KCR of going back on his promise. The former minister claimed that KCR had assured him a Cabinet berth, and an MLC ticket to his son-in-law Srinivas Reddy. However, these promises weren’t fulfilled, he complained.
Similarly, former Deputy Chief Minister T Rajaiah was miffed at not being inducted into the Cabinet, and said that the Cabinet does not have a Madiga (Scheduled Caste community) representative.
While these two leaders have openly expressed their dissent, several other MLAs like Jogu Ramanna (Adilabad), Atram Sakku (Asifabad) and Ajmeera Rekha Naik (Khanapur) too are reportedly disappointed. Upset over not being included in the Cabinet, Jogu Ramanna, who earlier held the Forests Ministry portfolio, switched off his phone and went incommunicado, according to reports.
Though the discontent is evident among TRS leaders and BJP is fishing in troubled waters, the dissent in unlikely to cause any immediate trouble to the TRS, as long as KCR is at the helm of affairs, observe political analysts.
“The BJP will definitely try to exploit this situation and try to grow in the state by bringing the discontented leaders into their fold. For the upcoming Municipal elections in Hyderabad they will be looking at every available opportunity to make a big mark in Telangana,” says political analyst Palwai Raghavendra Reddy.
However, Raghavendra says that BJP's efforts may not pay dividends this time as KCR has balanced the risk by retaining Eatala Rajender and Malla Reddy in the Cabinet, and offering his nephew, Harish Rao, a plum post. Earlier there were reports that KCR was unhappy with both these legislators and would sack them during the Cabinet reshuffle. Besides, Harish Rao not being offered a Cabinet post initially gave rise to speculations of infighting within the party.
According to Raghavendra, KCR has managed to accommodate every community in the Cabinet. “By inducting Sabitha Indra Reddy, KCR has ticked both “Woman” and “Reddy” boxes. Similarly, by bringing in Gangula Kamalakar, he has BC representation,” he says.
According to analysts even if Jogu Ramanna, Rajaiah or Nayini Narasimha revolt against KCR and join the BJP, it wouldn’t affect the TRS.
“If these leaders join the BJP, it would serve for the optics, but they can’t win elections for the BJP. Telangana gave a decisive mandate to KCR, not to these leaders. And with a huge majority of more than 100 MLAs, there is no way that this government will be in trouble unless 50-60 legislators quit en masse,” says political commentator K Nageshwar Rao.