Hyderabad: With the inevitability of the de jure rise and anointing of minister and TRS working president K.T. Rama Rao as the next Chief Minister of Telangana setting in, party leaders and ministerial aspirants have started die-hard efforts to get his attention and push for their Cabinet candidature.
With a plethora of strategies, including media leaks, name dropping and trying to send feelers to the new leader of the state, everyone from TRS ministers to MLAs, MLCs and others are trying to stand apart as ministry-worthy.
Gossip is abuzz and grapevines are feeding all manners of “news” about who is in and who will be out. Amidst the intertwined emotions of insecurity and hope, TRS leaders are asking – “am I in? Will I make it? What does KTR really want?”
In the hot race are several senior MLAs and younger ones trying their luck for a Cabinet post in the upcoming ‘KTR Cabinet’ are also increasing their tryst with religious approval and promises to the divine for blessings.
Sources close to Rama Rao concede, with a veneer of wilful doubt, that “indeed if the case is that he will become Chief Minister, there is scope for appointing two Deputy Chief Ministers in his Cabinet.”
Senior TRS leaders are building bridges in their hearts from this only real statement of intent. Some argue that is a given that Rama Rao will have one deputy CM each from the BC and Dalit communities. Senior leaders, including health minister Etala Rajendar and Koppula Eshwar are betting and hoping they are appointed Deputy CMs.
Mahmood Ali, currently handling the ministry of home affairs, leaders speculate, shall continue in the Cabinet but chances are that the new CM will shuffle his department. Ali earlier served as Deputy CM in the first government of Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao.
Some ‘data-driven’ leaders speculate that since social balancing will be crucial, Balka Suman or Guvvala Balaraju will likely get into the Cabinet and are pushing hard for their candidature as "strong representatives" from the SC category.
Ajmeera Rekha Naik and Atram Sakku are similarly making attempts for a shot at the Cabinet from the Schedule Tribe category, believing the rumours of dropping of present minister Satyavati Rathod are indeed true.
Some insiders say that while it will be the ‘KTR Cabinet’, the influence of Chandrashekar Rao will be far from diminished, and therefore ministers G. Jagadish Reddy and Niranjan Reddy, considered very close to the TRS supremo from the beginning of agitation for a separate state, are bound to be continued.
Analysts and leaders betting on sub-regional representation argue that since there has been only minister from Khammam, Puvvada Ajay Kumar, who was given a cabinet, he is expecting to be continued but is striving to ensure that is indeed the case. Ponguleti Srinivas Reddy, a former MP from Khammam and deemed a close associate of Rama Rao, may also get a Cabinet post, some speculate.
Several MLAs from the Ranga Reddy and Hyderabad limits are seriously trying to get into the good books of Rama Rao. Former minister Patnam Mahender Reddy, Quthbullapur MLA K.P. Vivekananda and Khairatabad MLA Danam Nagender are trying desperately to hope the change of top guard brings good times for them.
Warangal senior MLA Vinay Bhaskar is trying his luck, hoping Rama Rao will replace minister Gangula Kamalakar from Karimnagar and give him a berth in the cabinet. MLA Rasamayi Balakishan is also trying hard for a place in the Cabinet.
There are several aspirants in the race from Nizamabad district, including Bodhan MLA Shakeel, Armoor MLA A. Jeevan Reddy, Nizamabad Rural MLA Bajireddy Govardhan, Kamareddy MLA Gampa Govardhan, but with a perception that only of them likely to make it, the competition to appease the gods and please Rama Rao is increasing.
Former minister and Jadcherla MLA Laxma Reddy is also vying his chances, and is betting on the caste composition and message that Rama Rao needs to send to the important community comprising the electorate.
Overall with over 15 to 20 MLAs trying to prove their luck for a berth in the ‘KTR Cabinet’, the season of political courting, and one-upmanship is just getting started. But as one leader put it bluntly, “except KTR, and Harish Rao, all other names are just that… speculation and hope.”