In first signs of dissidence in the Andhra Pradesh unit of the Congress, Women Welfare Minister Konda Surekha on Thursday resigned demanding installation of Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy as Chief Minister.
“I am pained over the death of Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy. I cannot continue in a cabinet without YSR. At least now the Congress High Command should heed to the demand for Jagan to be made the Chief Minister,” she told reporters after handing over her resignation letter to Governor N.D. Tiwari directly bypassing Chief Minister K. Rosaiah.
Ms. Surekha, who has been in the forefront of ‘Jagan for CM’ campaign from the day of YSR’s death, alleged that a section within the state Congress was preventing Jaganmohan from being made the Chief Minister.
She said her resignation was not to “threaten” anyone and that it was “purely a personal decision.”
“I am pained at the fact that the Congress Legislature Party has not been convened even to condole the death of Y.S, Rajasekhara Reddy,” she said.
The resignation comes a day after Ms. Surekha, who had earlier said she would never work under Mr. Rosaiah as he was not a mass leader, termed the Chief Minister a father figure.
Other pro-Jagan ministers like Danam Nagender, Aanam Ramanarayana Reddy and Peddireddi Ramachandra Reddy have also mellowed down.
Mr. Ramachandra Reddy was the one who first threatened to split the Congress if Mr. Jagan was not made the Chief Minister.
With the party high command solidly standing by Mr. Rosaiah, Mr. Ramachandra Reddy has fallen silent. There are reports that now everyone in the party is anxiously awaiting the expansion of Cabinet. The Congress Legislature Party is expected to meet very soon to formally elect Mr. Rosaiah as its leader, a formality that has not been completed after the death of Rajasekhara Reddy on September 2.
Sources close to Mr. Rosaiah said he will visit New Delhi after he is formally elected the CLP leader and discuss the issue of Cabinet expansion with the party high command.
Currently, there are seven slots vacant in the Council of Ministers and indications are that the Chief Minister may drop some non-performing ministers.
“I have not assessed the performance of the ministers yet,” Mr. Rosaiah replied, when questioned about the changes likely to take place in his Cabinet.
Changes, however, look inevitable as many ministers have failed to deliver.
Senior Congress leaders loyal to Mr. Rosaiah want Konda Surekha to be removed from the Cabinet given her open criticism of the Chief Minister. They even want Home Minister P. Sabita Indra Reddy removed from the Cabinet or shunted to a less prominent portfolio given her allegiance to Jagan.
Danam Nagender has been drawing flak not only from the opposition parties but also from within the ruling party over his gross failure in handling a key portfolio like medical and health. Most parts of the state are in the grip of epidemics like ‘chikungunya, dengue and malaria’ but Mr. Nagender failed to take effective steps to check the spread of diseases