Tribal Welfare Minister P. Balaraju did not attend Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy’s Rachabanda programme at Chodavaram in the district on Friday adding weight to the speculations that the rift between the two is widening.

For the second consecutive time Mr. Balaraju skipped the Chief Minister’s programme in the district. He left for Hyderabad when Mr. Kiran Reddy visited the areas affected by floods and heavy rain on October 30. This time he said that he was not officially informed about the Chief Minster’s programme in the district and hence stayed away.

Rift the reason?

This could not be the real reason for him to avoid the Chief Minister since one cannot believe that the officials would forget to inform a Minister of Chief Minister’s visit, and the Congress party leaders and others strongly believe that Mr. Balaraju stayed away from the programme, irked with Mr. Kiran Reddy giving more attention to the other Minister from the district Ganta Srinivasa Rao, who is junior to him.

Mr. Balaraju and Mr. Srinivasa Rao do not go together and always hold separately review meetings with officials on government programmes in the district.

This could be the main reason for Mr. Balaraju’s distancing himself away from the Chief Minister though he made it clear that he would abide by party high command’s decision on bifurcation of the State, though he personally believes that the State must remain unified, while Mr. Kiran Reddy emerged as a strong advocate of unified State.