The elevation of M.M. Pallam Raju, a Kapu MP from Kakinada, to the Cabinet and the inclusion of Mr. Chiranjeevi and Kotla Surya Prakash Reddy are seen as attempts at getting the caste equation right.
Sunday’s reshuffle has come as a windfall for Congress MPs from Andhra Pradesh as a record number of 10 of them, from both Houses of Parliament, now find a place in the Union Council of Ministers.
Underpinning this bonanza is the Congress’ attempt at placating caste groups that can swing votes in the 2014 elections as much as its anxiety to strike a balance between the Telangana and Seemandhra regions.
Rarely in the recent past have there been three Cabinet Ministers, a Minister of State with Independent charge (K. Chiranjeevi) and a six-member contingent of MoSs from Andhra Pradesh. It was this State which sent the highest number of Congress MPs, 33, to the Lok Sabha after the 2009 elections but the then Chief Minister, Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy, did not press its case hard for more Cabinet berths in UPA II team.
Three years later, the Congress has become weakened as the Reddy community is gravitating towards the fledgling YSR Congress. It was this trend that forced the ruling party to fall back on Mr. Chiranjeevi, a leader of the Kapus who are politically strong and numerically significant. The elevation of M.M. Pallam Raju, a Kapu MP from Kakinada, to the Cabinet and the inclusion of Mr. Chiranjeevi and Kotla Surya Prakash Reddy are seen as attempts at getting the caste equation right.
The inclusion of Sarve Satyanarayana, a leader of the Madiga sub-caste of SCs; P. Balaram Naik, a tribal; and Killi Krupa Rani, an MP belonging to the Backward Classes, is an effort in the same direction.
The high command has also sent an unambiguous signal that it would neither brook indiscipline nor compromise on loyalty. Madhu Yashki Goud, G. Vivek and Manda Jagannath from Telangana, who have been vociferously championing the cause of a separate State, stand ignored. So do the strong protagonists of a united Andhra Pradesh such as K. Sambasiva Rao.
It is clear that the AICC is in no mood to placate pro and anti-Telangana groups or inclined to take an early decision on the issue. Both new Ministers from Telangana — Mr. Satyanarayana and Mr. Naik — issued statements, after the swearing-in, that they would abide by any decision of the Centre. In fact, after taking the oath, Mr. Naik touched the feet of Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi and later party president Sonia Gandhi.
By giving a chunk of berths to MPs from the weaker sections, the Congress wants to show that it has not given up the fight though it is hemmed in by the TRS, the TDP and the YSR Congress in all three regions of the State.
Surprisingly, the Prime Minister has belied expectations here that D. Purandeshwari, daughter of N.T. Rama Rao, would be elevated to the Cabinet rank.