After Monday’s reshuffle, the South has much to cheer about — 31 of the 77 Ministers (excluding Prime Minister) in the Union Cabinet are from the region.
Of them, 13 belonged to Andhra Pradesh, eight from Kerala, five from Karnataka, four from Tamil Nadu and one from Puducherry. While A.P. has the highest number of five Cabinet Ministers, Karnataka has four and T.N. and Kerala have two each.
In the poll-bound Andhra Pradesh, every fourth MP of the Congress, either elected to the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha, is now a Union Minister. The State tops the list of getting the highest number of 13 Ministers in the council.
In Karnataka, where the Congress had recently won the Assembly polls, every second MP belonging to the party is a Minister now with five of the 10 MPs (seven from the Lok Sabha and three from the Rajya Sabha) being in the Cabinet.
The luck for the Congress MPs from Tamil Nadu is also not bad as every third Congress MP from the State is a Minister. Of course, this has come at the cost of the DMK, which quit the UPA-II government on the Sri Lankan issue a few months ago. Of the Congress MPs, two are already holding the Cabinet rank.
Given the fluid situation in Andhra Pradesh — with Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy set to pose great challenges to the Congress in the Assembly/Lok Sabha polls from the Seemandhra region and the Telangana Rashtra Samithi issuing threats in the problematic Telangana region — as many as 13 out of 44 Congress MPs (31 in the Lok Sabha and 13 in the Rajya Sabha) have been made Ministers. Of them five — S. Jaipal Reddy, Kishore Chandra Deo, M.M. Pallam Raju, K.S. Rao and Jairam Ramesh (elected from A.P. to the Rajya Sabha) — are Cabinet Ministers.
While actor-politician K. Chiranjeevi is already enjoying the Minister of State with independent charge status, there are seven MoS: D. Purandeswari, Panabaka Lakshmi, Sarvey Satyanarayana, K. Surya Prakash Reddy, P. Balram Naik, Killi Krupa Rani and J.D. Seelam.
While Mr. Jaipal Reddy, Mr. Satyanarayana and Mr. Naik are from the Telangana region, Mr. Surya Prakash Reddy represents Rayalaseema and the remaining are from Coastal Andhra Pradesh.
With the Seemandhra region getting more representation in the Union Council, sources said the balancing act made by the Congress high command might help it to arrest the exodus to the YSR Party prior to the polls. It may be noted that Mr. K.S. Rao had submitted his resignation to the high command when he failed to a find place in the Cabinet during the previous reshuffle.
In Tamil Nadu, the Congress has only 12 MPs (eight in the Lok Sabha and four in the Rajya Sabha — one is retiring next month). Of them, four are enjoying berths in the Cabinet — P. Chidambaram, G.K. Vasan, Jayanthi Natarajan and E.M. Sudarsana Natchiappan.
In Karnataka, the victory of the Congress in the recent Assembly poll has brought favours to the State leaders with Mallikarjun Kharge getting the plum Railway portfolio and Oscar Fernandes being inducted as another Cabinet minister. M. Veerappa Moily and K. Rahman Khan are the other Cabinet ministers.
From Karnataka, the Congress has seven members in the Lok Sabha and three in the Rajya Sabha and five of them, including K.H. Muniyappa, are already inducted into the Cabinet.
As the Congress prepares for the 16th Lok Sabha poll, indications are that it is depending too much on the southern States. Kerala is not lagging behind as seven of its MPs are in the Cabinet. Besides, one berth has been given to its ally, the Muslim League (E. Ahamed).
While A.K. Antony and Vayalar Ravi are enjoying the Cabinet rank, K.V. Thomas is the MoS with independent charge. Mullapally Ramachandran, K.C. Venugopal, E. Ahamed, Shashi Tharoor and K. Suresh are the MoS.
In Kerala, there are 13 Lok Sabha and three Rajya Sabha members from the Congress. The Kerala Congress (Mani) group has one member in both the Houses and the IUML has two members in the Lower House. Both the IUML and the KC(M) are the allies of the party in Kerala.
Puducherry is represented by MoS V. Narayanasamy.