Mr. Sridhar Babu has gone to the forefront of championing the bifurcation cause while Dr. Shailajanath has been spearheading the movement for keeping Andhra Pradesh united.

 In a move that is sure to trigger another round of controversy between the Telangana and Seemandhra leaders of the ruling Congress, Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy on Tuesday evening stripped Mr. D. Sridhar Babu of the Legislative Affairs portfolio and allocated it to his loyalist S. Sailajanath.

The sudden move is politically significant coming as it does less than three days before resumption of the Legislative Assembly session on January 3 when the historic AP Reorganisation Bill 2013 for bifurcation of the State will be debated. The controversy centres around the fact that Mr. Sridhar Babu has gone to the forefront of championing the bifurcation cause while Dr. Shailajanath has been spearheading the movement for keeping Andhra Pradesh united for quite some time now.

Perhaps to compensate Mr. Sridhar Babu and deflect some of the controversy major change, he gave him the important subject of Commercial Taxes in addition to the portfolio of Civil Supplies that he is holding. Commercial Taxes was being handled by Mr. Kiran Reddy himself.  In another change, albeit a minor one, Tourism Minister Vatti Vasant Kumar was also given Telugu Languages Development subject.

Talking to The Hindu from Karimnagar, Mr. Sridhar Babu said he was not aware of the change in his portfolio. “I have not received any official communication as yet.” Mr. Sridhar Babu said he was surprised at the reports appearing in a section of the media.

Sources in the Chief Minister’s camp maintain that the decision to divest Mr. Sridhar Babu of Legislative Affairs is the fallout of the developments in the Assembly earlier this month. When the Bill was tabled in the House amid uproarious scenes, Mr. Sridhar Babu had claimed that the debate on the legislation had already been initiated after the Deputy Speaker, Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka, allowed him to speak.

There were serious differences on the issue as Seemandhra leaders claimed that the debate had not been initiated. Finally, Speaker Nadendla Manohar said that the debate had not yet started and it would resume only from January 3. By handing over the Legislative Affairs portfolio to his aide Dr. Sailajanath, the Chief Minister has made a move to wrest the initiative from the Telangana Ministers who had gained the upper hand in the last sitting as the Telangana Bill was tabled in the House. Mr. Reddy is also irked by the attitude of Mr. Sridhar Babu during the issue of proroguing the Assembly last month.