The stage is set for the reorganisation of the Andhra Pradesh Cabinet on Monday even as the suspense continued on who will be picked as the new ministers and who will retain their ministerial positions.
Governor Biswa Bhusan Harichandan will administer oath to the new ministers at the Secretariat at 11.31 a.m. on Monday.
The names of new ministers were not announced till Sunday afternoon and the speculations may continue till the eleventh hour.
Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, who secured the resignations of all 24 ministers at the Cabinet meeting on April 7, has reportedly forwarded to the governor the resignations of those who will be dropped.
The chief minister continued to hold discussions with government adviser (public affairs) Sajjala Ramakrishna Reddy and some other close confidantes to finalise the list of the ministers. The list of ministers to be sworn in is likely to be sent to Raj Bhavan by Sunday evening.
Speculations continued as to how many ministers will be retained. According to sources in the YSR Congress Party (YSRCP), Jagan Mohan Reddy may retain 6-8 ministers as he feels that the government will need their experience.
Initially, Jagan Mohan Reddy wanted to retain only a couple of ministers and fill the remaining vacancies with new faces but he apparently changed his mind as it was felt that dropping many senior ministers may have an impact on the government and the party.
Ramakrishna Reddy said the new Cabinet would be a mix of both old and new. He hinted that 7-12 ministers may be retained.
After constituting first Cabinet in June 2019, Jagan had made it clear that after the half-term there will be new Cabinet and the outgoing ministers will be entrusted with the task of working for the party to bring it back to power. The process, however, has been delayed by few months.
At the Cabinet meeting on April 7, Jagan explained to the ministers that the exercise is aimed at bringing the party back to power. The ministers handed to him their resignations to enable to reorganise the Cabinet.
However, unlike in 2019, Jagan is reportedly facing a daunting task in finalising the names. While accommodating those who are considered strong contenders, he will have to ensure caste and regional equation. At the same time, he can’t afford to drop some senior ministers as this could lead to dissidence in the party ranks.
Jagan may retain Botsa Satyanarayana, Buggana Rajendranath, Kanna Babu, Kodali Nani, P. Ramachandra Reddy, Narayanaswamy, Adimulapu Suresh and couple of others.
Ramakrishna Reddy also dropped hints that the representation for backward classes in the Cabinet may go up. Jagan may also increase the number of women members.
Though 13 new districts were created last week to take the total number of districts to 26, Ramakrishna Reddy said all the districts may not have representation in the Cabinet.
The probables include Dharmana Prasad Rao, who was a member of Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy’s Cabinet in undivided Andhra Pradesh. Other names doing the round include V. Kalavathi, Rajanna Dora, K. Bhagyalaxmi, N. Dhanalaxmi, Muthyala Naidu, Gudivada Amarnath, Dadisetti Raja, Jakkampudi Raja, Jogi Ramesh, K. Parthasarathi, R.K. Roja, Hafeez Khan, B. Karunakar Reddy and Mohammad Mustafa Shaik.
The YSRCP stormed to power in 2019 with a landslide majority. The party had bagged 151 seats in the 175-member Assembly.
Jagan Mohan Reddy had formed the Cabinet with 25 ministers. In 2020, two of them Pilli Subhash Chandra Bose and Mopidevi Venkataramana resigned after they were elected to the Rajya Sabha. They were replaced by C.S. Venugopala Krishna and Seediri Appalaraju.
Including the chief minister, the strength of the state cabinet stayed at 26, which is the maximum strength the council of ministers can maintain.
However, the death of Mekapati Goutham Reddy in February caused a vacancy. Goutham Reddy, who was holding the industries, commerce and information technology portfolios, died of cardiac arrest on February 21.