The UPA II Cabinet reshuffle heralded a bonanza for Andhra Pradesh as the state now has 10 ministers in the union council of ministers. And if one were to count Jairam Ramesh, who is a Rajya Sabha member from AP, the tally is 11. The interesting factor about the October 28 reshuffle is that the Congress is now focusing on castes other than the Reddys and Kammas as a significant vote bank in the 2014 elections. Kotla Suryaprakash Reddy (Railways) has been rewarded for refusing to fall prey to the alleged signature campaign by Jaganmohan Reddy in 2009 when his father Y. S. Rajasekahra Reddy passed away. K. Chiranjeevi (Tourism and Culture) and M. Pallam Raju both belong to the Kapu community, which forms a significant part of AP's population. Killi Krupa Rani (IT& Communications) is a BC, P. Balaram Naik (Social Justice) is a tribal MP, Sarve Satyanarayana (Road Transport) is a member of Scheduled Caste community. The UPA II has kept out vociferous Telangana and United Andhra proponents and simply worked on its caste equations. Coastal Andhra MPs Rayapati Sambasiva Rao and Kavuri Sambasiva Rao have been ignored. Telangana-protagonists like Madhu Yashki Goud, G. Vivek and Ponnam Prabhakar too have not been able to make it to the elite list.
The late N. T. Rama Rao's daughter D. Purandeswari who was expecting an elevation from her minister of state rank was however in for disappointment. The minister who gave out an interview to a national TV channel saying that the Prime Minister had called her and she was all set to assume a cabinet ranked post was taught a tough lesson in party discipline, say Congress sources. The sources also say that it wasn't just the tangle with Reliance that led to Petroleum Minister Jaipal Reddy's exit. Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy reportedly conveyed his displeasure to the Congress high command several times over Jaipal Reddy's "off-the-record" leaks to the media which portrayed Kiran in poor light.
Kiran Kumar Reddy will be completing two years as Chief Minister in November. It is been an uphill battle for Kiran Kumar who managed to stay in the hot seat despite rumours emerging every other day that he would be replaced. The former cricketer finally seems to have found his groove, thanks to his pet scheme Indirammabaata. He has kept not only his detractors at bay but is keeping the cadre together. Even a recent spat with Deputy Chief Minister Damodar Rajanarasimha has been sorted out. Rajanarasimha has been a thorn in the flesh of the CM for long, airing criticism and differences of opinion openly, be it about engineering colleges, Telangana or party matters. Another recent spat was regarding Kiran Kumar's tour of Medak district as part of Indirammabaata. Damodar Rajanarasimha, whose constituency is in Medak district was mighty miffed that Kiran Kumar had not kept him in the loop and chalked out his programme in consultation with another minister D. K. Aruna. Rajanarasimha went into sulk mode and did not even take the CM's call when the latter tried to talk to him. It was finally left to PCC chief Botsa Satyanarayana to pour oil on troubled waters and sort out a truce. The negotiations worked and the Deputy CM has accompanied Kiran Kumar on his tour.
What is YSR Congress president Jaganmohan Reddy doing in Chanchalguda jail? The Telugu Desam says it knows. TDP leader Yanamala Ramakrishnudu alleges that Jagan is using cellphones being provided by jail officials to stay in touch with family and party leaders. Yanamala says that the late YSR's son, who has been in jail for over four months now in an illegal assets case, is using various gadgets to keep a tab on developments in the outside world. Stating that the Chanchalguda jail officials had not responded to his queries, Yanamala has now filed an RTI application seeking the call details of jail staffers and the number of visitors Jagan has had between May and October. He has also sought recordings of closed circuit cameras installed in the jail to know what exactly Jagan has been up to.
The Pilgrims' Progress
TDP president Chandrababu Naidu was injured in a dais collapse during his Vastunna Meekosam yatra in Gadwal, Mahabubnagar district. He suffered a sprain in his back and had to take a day's break. Naidu has been advised by doctors to give himself a longer break but the opposition leader has been continuing with his yatra. Meanwhile, Y. S. Sharmila, who is on her own padayatra, also took a day's rest owing to viral fever and a severe cold. Sharmila's yatra saw a massive turnout in Anantapur and has drawn good crowds, especially youth and women.
Through a Glass, Darkly
Traffic police in Hyderabad have begun implementing the Apex court order banning the use of tinted film in vehicles. Challans are being used left, right and centre as citizens are scrambling to get the dark films removed from their car windows. Actors, politicians, VIPs, none are being spared. Minister for backward classes B. Saraiah was also booked by the Traffic police for violating the rule. Traffic Police Commissioner C. V. Anand has tried to set an example by getting the tinted film removed from his own vehicle and has clearly stated that like it or not, people have to follow the SC's orders. The same car decor showrooms which offered the tinted film services are now in demand by customers for removing the film. The Apex Court directive was issued in May 2012, following a petition by a man named Avinash Goenka, who contended that black films on car windows had led to heinous crimes such as dacoity, rape, murder and even terrorist acts. From now on, only VVIPs with Z and Z plus category vehicles will be allowed the use of tinted film. Hyderabadis complain that the heat would be unbearable without the tinted film on their window screens and many are also cribbing about the invasion of privacy. But in these troubled times of terrorism and crime, citizens have no option but to grin and bear the sun, says C. V. Anand.