Allocation of portfolios to the newly sworn-in ministers triggered a major rebellion against Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy around midnight on Wednesday, as two ministers resigned hours after he constituted his Council of Ministers. One ministers --Vatti Vasantha Kumar -- sent his resignations to the chief minister.
The ministers, who have been left seething after the allocation of portfolios, are now getting ready for a showdown with the chief minister at the first formal meeting of the new Cabinet in Hyderabad on Thursday.
"It (Cabinet) is not your private limited company. Do you want the Congress party to survive in Andhra Pradesh or get reduced to its 1994 status (when it won only 27 seats and could not even become the main opposition party)," a senior minister reportedly asked the chief minister, expressing serious displeasure over the allocation of portfolios.
The main grouse was that all the 'plum' portfolios (revenue-earning) were allocated to ministers belonging to the Reddy community while those from the backward classes were given 'insignificant' (non-revenue generating) portfolios.
While the Reddys got as many as 14 berths in the new Cabinet, the BCs were given just about 10.
When it came to allocation of portfolios, prime ones like finance, agriculture, major irrigation, health, municipal administration and panchayat raj were given to Reddys, much to the chagrin of the BC ministers.
The dissenters were led by Botsa Satyanarayana, Dharmana Prasada Rao, Ponnala Lakshmaiah and Danam Nagender who got ready to quit their posts after Vatti quit.
A Reddy minister, Komatireddi Venkat Reddy, too has joined hands with the BC ministers and is sulking over the allocation of Infrastructure and Investments portfolio to him.
Vatti, who had held the portfolio of rural development in the previous K Rosaiah government, quit after he was given the charge of the tourism department in the new ministry.
Following in Vatti’s steps, Komatireddi too forwarded his resignation to the chief minister. He was the minister for information technology and communications in the previous government.
Sensing trouble, a worried chief minister sent his new finance minister Aanam Ramanarayana Reddy to placate Vatti, at whose residence more than 10 ministers had gathered for a strategic meeting around midnight.
However, Vatti remained firm on his resignation.
The chief minister reportedly conveyed through Aanam that the portfolios issue could be discussed at the Cabinet meeting scheduled for tomorrow but the sulking ministers were in no mood to relent.
The chief minister's reportedly contentded that some of the senior ministers were given "less important" portfolios only because they were facing allegations of corruption.
"In that case why were such persons taken into the Cabinet in the first place," a disgruntled minister asked.
The emissary did not have an answer for this and had to make a hasty retreat, informed sources said.