Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy divesting D Sridhar Babu of the Legislative Affairs portfolio late on Sunday night stirred a hornets nest among MLAs from Telangana region.
Babu,who is from Telangana region,is a strong votary of Telangana state and had been battling for it for years. He was instrumental in the progress of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill,2013 to create a separate state.
The Bill was taken up in the Assembly session that began on December 20 but it was adjourned till January 3 after a ruckus by Seemandhra MLAs against division of Congress-ruled Andhra Pradesh.
The portfolio being given to Dr S Sailajanath from Rayalaseema region,who is staunchly against the division of Andhra,has particularly ruffled the feathers of Telangana MLAs. Babu,who holds the Civil Supplies portfolio,was given additional portfolio of Commercial Taxes but he has refused to accept it.
Telangana MLAs who went to the extent of calling the CM a sadist,complained to Governor E S L Narasimhan.
Babu was replaced before the Assembly resumes on January 3,when Telangana MLAs and ministers are likely to demand a debate on the Bill.
With Dr Sailajanath handling that portfolio things are expected to be more under control of Seemandhra MLAs and Ministers, an official,who did not want to be named,said.
The CM,sources said,was unhappy with Babu for stating discussion had started on the Bill,when it was only tabled. Telangana MLAs described the CMs move as blatant and aggressive. Led by Minister K Jana Reddy,Telangana ministers complained to Governor Narasimhan on Tuesday morning. Sources said the CM had not consulted the AICC or his ministerial colleagues before taking the decision. Congress ministers who are in favour of Telangana decried the CMs move.
Sridhar Babu has been advocating the cause of Telangana and insisting on a discussion on Telangana Bill in the Assembly ever since it was sent by the President of India. His portfolio has been given to Dr Sailajanath who is against Telangana and is a supporter of a united state. The CM has done this to scuttle any discussion on Telangana Bill in the Assembly. It is an undemocratic and immoral act by the CM who wants to prevent formation of Telangana. He will not succeed, Jana Reddy said.
Babu,whose home district Karimnagar observed a bandh on Tuesday,refused to accept the portfolio offered to him. As Legislative Affairs minister,I always followed norms. I am surprised at this development. I have not accepted the new portfolio, Babu said on Monday.
Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) floor leader E Rajender,Congress ministers and MLAs criticised the decision to strip Babu of the Legislative Affairs portfolio. The CM,when contacted,said it was his prerogative to make changes.