Hyderabad: Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao is likely to expand his cabinet early next month and bring back back his son K.T. Rama Rao and nephew T. Harish Rao.
Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) leaders say Chandrashekhar Rao may undertake the much-awaited expansion in the first week of July to fill six vacancies.
KCR, as the TRS chief is popularly known, had left out both Rama Rao and Harish Rao in the first cabinet expansion in February, nearly two months after the TRS retained power with a landslide victory.
Rama Rao, popular as KTR among his followers, was the virtual number two in KCR's earlier cabinet, holding the key portfolios of industry, information technology, municipal administration and urban development.
Following the TRS victory in the Assembly elections held in December last year, KTR was appointed as party's Working President by KCR, who was eyeing a crucial role at the Centre. This was seen as preparation for KTR's ascension to the post of Chief Minister in the event of his father shifting to Delhi.
KCR, who had mooted the idea of Federal Front comprising non-BJP and non-Congress parties at the Centre, had assigned KTR the task of 'Mission 16' in Lok Sabha polls. The TRS was aiming a clean sweep leaving 17th seat (Hyderabad) for its ally All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM).
However, the BJP's massive victory with over 300 Lok Sabha seats upset KCR's plans. In a major setback for the TRS, the BJP also made huge inroads in the state to win four seats. The Congress also bagged three seats to dash all hopes of a clean sweep.
With things not going as planned, KCR is now focusing his efforts to tone up the administration by bringing back both KTR and Harish Rao to the cabinet.
While KTR is likely to retain the portfolios he was handling in the earlier cabinet, Harish Rao may get education, instead of his earlier portfolio of irrigation.
As KCR continues to draw flak for not having a woman in his cabinet, he is likely to induct Sabitha Indra Reddy, one of the 12 Congress MLAs who defected to TRS and whose merger with TRS was recognized by Assembly Speaker earlier a few days ago.
The induction of Sabitha Indra Reddy, who was a minister in cabinets of Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, K. Rosaiah and Kiran Kumar Reddy in undivided Andhra Pradesh, will help KCR to silence the critics. Another defector is also likely to be rewarded.
There are many aspirants among the TRS MLAs for two other vacancies in the cabinet.
The TRS had won 88 seats in 119-member Assembly. The number crossed 100 with two Independents, one MLA of Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and 12 MLAs of Congress crossing over to the ruling party during the last couple of months.
KCR took oath as the Chief Minister for the second term on December 13. Mohammed Mahmood Ali, a member of Legislative Council, was the only minister to take oath with him. Ali was entrusted the key portfolio of home.
After keeping every one guessing for more than two months, KCR expanded the cabinet by inducting 10 ministers. He, however, kept key portfolios including that of finance with himself.
KCR himself presented vote-on-account budget in Assembly in February. TRS sources said KCR will have full-fledged Finance Minister before the budget session of state legislature, likely to begin after July 15. He is also likely to reshuffle some portfolios.
In the previous cabinet, Etela Rajender was holding finance but this time he has been made Minister for Health and Family Welfare.