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Back to the Kamaraj Plan in Andhra Pradesh

There are opportunities and challenges in the YSRCP government’s plan to reshuffle the Cabinet

The imminent ‘Kamaraj Plan’ in Andhra Pradesh (A.P.) could serve as an opportunity as well as a challenge for the YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) government. After the formation of the Cabinet in 2019, A.P. Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy announced that the entire Cabinet should be prepared to resign and go back to their constituencies to strengthen the party half-way through the five-year term.

In 1963, the Chief Minister of the then Madras State, K. Kamaraj, suggested to Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru that all senior Congress ministers should resign and take up party work to revitalise the Congress. This was immediately accepted and implemented by Nehru.

 

Sources in the government confirm that the reshuffle is under way and Mr. Reddy is in the process of giving it shape. Consultations with party seniors and leaders are going on and a final list may get the nod shortly, according to a senior government functionary who is in frequent touch with the Chief Minister’s Office. “Initially, the plan was to replace 90% of the ministers. Later, it was decided that there would be a full reshuffle,” the functionary said under the condition of anonymity. The Energy Minister, Balineni Srinivasa Reddy, while speaking to reporters recently, also confirmed that the entire Cabinet would be replaced. The shuffle was expected to take place by October 15, but now it is being planned for January 14, 2022.

Strategic move

Way ahead of the 2024 polls, this is a strategic move by the party. The YSRCP will naturally have the advantage of promoting its policies and welfare programmes. At a time when the State is staring at delimitation, the senior party leadership’s exposure to the grassroots is likely to give them an opportunity to establish a better connect with the people across regions and age groups and to take the party’s policies, especially the flagship Navaratnalu welfare schemes, to people more effectively. In the proposed delimitation, the 13 districts of A.P. are likely to be divided into 25 or more for administrative convenience and more focused governance.

All the ministers and senior leaders in the party will be made responsible for certain constituencies so that they can strengthen the party’s reach in areas where it is not strong through schemes and policies. The Navaratnalu welfare schemes include the YSR Rythu Bharosa scheme (providing ₹50,000 assistance to farmers), fee reimbursement for students, Arogyasri (free medical treatment) and Amma Vodi (direct transfer of ₹15,000 to mothers who send their children to school).

Facing questions

This exposure of the leaders will also mean greater accountability. They need to be prepared to face questions on various issues, including on the State capital, State finances, the issue of the Amaravati farmers and land pooling, pay revision of government employees, and Special Category Status. As the party inches closer to the polls, these questions will only get louder.

Meanwhile, the Telugu Desam Party, the Jana Sena Party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress are already trying to expose the shortcomings of the YSRCP. The BJP has declared support for the Amaravati farmers and joined their padayatra demanding justice.

The shuffle could bring new opportunities for young and aspiring legislators, but it could also lead to discontent among the seniors if there is change in status quo. How the party tackles these challenges and makes use of these opportunities needs to be seen.

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