Andhra Pradesh will score a first on Saturday when chief minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy will expand his cabinet. He will appoint not one, not two but five deputy chief ministers. The intention is to give star representation to all caste and communities. So there will be a deputy CM from Kapu community, BC, SC, ST and minorities.
Jagan made the announcement at the YSR Congress legislature party meeting in Amaravati on Friday. He told his colleagues that the team would have 25 ministers, five of them deputy CMs. Jagan hopes this five-star government will ensure social justice and will be a way to showcase the party’s commitment to all caste and community groups.
But one man who saw this coming was the late Dasari Narayan Rao whose movie `MLA Yedukondalu’ in 1983 had the actor-director play the role of the CM who makes every MLA a Deputy CM. This movie was remade as `Aaj ka MLA Ram Avtar’ in Hindi with Rajesh Khanna in the lead.
Jagan’s decision is clearly an unprecedented move and has taken everyone by surprise because deputy CMs are appointed only when there is a threat to the person at the top from one of his colleagues.
It also raises the question whether caste and religion and not merit is the criterion to become a minister. Jagan has also said that 90 per cent of his ministers will be changed with new faces after two and a half years so that more legislators get a chance to become a minister.
Kapu unrest was a major issue that confronted the Chandrababu Naidu regime and he had to announce 5 per cent reservation for Kapus in the state. Jagan is ensuring with his five deputies move that he keeps every section happy, a kind of social populism delivered in a political package.
The flip side is that with his cabinet set to have only four Reddy ministers despite having 51 MLAs, there is bound to be some dissatisfaction in the community that has strongly backed Jagan all these years.
In the previous government, Chandrababu Naidu had two deputy CMs – KE Krishnamurthy and Chinna Rajappa. In neighbouring Karnataka, the Congress has its nominee G Parameshwara as deputy CM to HD Kumaraswamy. In Tamil Nadu, O Panneerselvam is the deputy CM to Edappadi Palaniswami.
In Telangana, during K Chandrasekhar Rao’s first term, K Srihari and Mahmood Ali were his deputies but he did not appoint anyone to the post in his second term.