Senior Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and former state Minister T Harish Rao has raised several eyebrows after his decision to move out of the Ministerial bungalow that he occupied on Road No 12 in Hyderabad's Banjara Hills area.
Harish has been shifting to his private residence in Kondapur and has triggered off several speculations including that he may not be given a cabinet berth in the second term of the TRS government. The TRS swept the Assembly polls held on December 7, bagging 88 seats in the 119-seat Legislative Assembly.
Clever ploy or disgruntlement?
Party insiders say that Harish has been upset ever since Congress leader Vanteru Pratap Reddy, who had contested against Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao from the Gajwel constituency, defected to the TRS.
It was Harish, who is also KCR's nephew, who campaigned for the TRS chief and ensured his victory in Gajwel. This, after a bitter battle with Vanteru, with the two exchanging harsh words and levelling several accusations against each other.
The decision to induct Vanteru also came shortly after KCR appointed his son, K T Rama Rao, as the Working President of the TRS. Vanteru was inducted by KTR and Harish was absent at the event. While Vanteru later met with KCR, Harish abstained from that meeting as well.
However, with Harish now moving out of his ministerial bungalow, many wonder what role he would be given. "It all depends on KCR. He will take the final call and decide what needs to be done," a source from the TRS said.
Ploy to make other ministers shift?
Other sources indicate that it could be a ploy to get other Ministers from the earlier term of the government, to also vacate their bungalows. This would allow the TRS chief to ensure a major shakeup in the cabinet with either younger faces being given a chance, or only around 7 to 8 key ministers heading a reorganised govt with more departments under each minister. However, top TRS leadership remains tight-lipped about the developments.
There is also speculation that the new cabinet may not include KTR or Harish Rao, with both of them instead being tasked with winning the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, as KCR has national ambitions and is stitching up a Federal Front. In such a scenario, it is crucial that the party wins 16 out of the 17 MP seats in the state. The TRS already has an understanding with Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi, to ensure that he retains his seat.
KCR, who had taken oath on December 13, along with his trusted confidante and Home Minister Mohammed Mahmood Ali, has also remained largely mum on the expansion of the cabinet. With close to 50 days since the results, KCR continues to hold two-person cabinet meetings, which include just himself and Ali.
With just one Minister in his cabinet, KCR may also need to present the Budget of the state soon. For this, he will need a Finance Minister or at least an interim Minister to present the state's finances in the Assembly. Sources say that keeping this in mind, the cabinet members may be announced before February 10.
Harish has been in the party since its inception, always accompanying KCR, while KTR returned from the United States during the Telangana movement and rose swiftly through the ranks of the TRS. This has often triggered speculation that all is not well between the first family of the TRS.
Harish, who has been a sitting legislator since 2004 and has become a seasoned politician, is maintaining in public that there was no rift in the family and that he would dutifully perform whatever role was assigned to him, even if it meant that he had to contest the Lok Sabha polls.
During the first term of the TRS government, Harish was given the portfolio of Irrigation, crucial for the party as water to every household was one of its key campaign promises during the agitation for separate statehood.
Many also point out that Harish enjoys massive support on the ground and cannot be dismissed easily, pointing that he won with a margin of more than 1 lakh votes, for the sixth consecutive time from Siddipet, with practically no sign of anti-incumbency.