Despite Congress winning 33 MP seats, only five berths allocated

Prime Minister reportedly spoke to Chief Minister before finalising the list of Ministers

YSR keen on getting national project status for three projects rather than Cabinet berths

HYDERABAD: Congress leaders in Andhra Pradesh feel that the State, which sent the largest contingent of 33 MPs to the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government, has been meted out a raw deal in the Union Council of Ministers.

The lucky ones

The State secured just five berths in the jumbo Ministry, with four of them being Ministers of State.

While S. Jaipal Reddy has already been sworn in as the lone Cabinet Minister, D. Purandeswari, Panabaka Lakshmi, M.M. Pallam Raju and A. Sai Prathap will be inducted as Ministers of State on Thursday.

The State’s representation was higher in 2004 when the Congress and the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) together contributed 35 MPs.

As many as eight MPs were included in the Council of Ministers, including two of Cabinet rank (Mr. Jaipal Reddy and TRS president K. Chandrasekhar Rao).

Fighting the elections on its own this time, the Congress improved its tally from 29 in 2004, overcoming anti-incumbency and other factors, but the result made little difference in the allocation of Cabinet berths.

Consolation

“This is an expected development. How can we expect more berths this time when Andhra Pradesh was not given its due in 2004 when its MPs formed the lifeline of the UPA? The high command has, however, included Mr. Sai Prathap, who is close to Dr. Reddy, to keep the latter in good humour,” a Congress MP from coastal Andhra remarked.

Interestingly, the list of Ministers was said have been finalised after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh spoke to Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy over telephone about the probables on Tuesday.

‘Not a regional party’

In spite of the disappointment of the Congress leaders, a lower representation to Andhra Pradesh was anticipated. Dr. Reddy admitted, at a Meet-The-Press programme recently, that he was not in a position to demand “his pound of flesh” as the Congress was not a regional party.

The Chief Minister’s supporters further pointed out that Dr. Reddy was against mounting pressure on the Central leadership for more berths.

Projects issue

He was more particular about wresting an assurance on declaring at least three major irrigation projects as national projects rather than getting Cabinet berths.