Andhra CM defends portfolio re-jig

Hyderabad, Jan 1 : Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy Wednesday defended the portfolio re-jig, saying it is his prerogative.

As his move to divest Civil Supplies Minister D. Sridhar Babu of legislative affairs portfolio sparked a row with ministers from Telangana complaining to the governor against the "undemocratic" action, the chief minister said it was done for smooth governance.

Kiran Reddy said since he was unable to concentrate on commercial taxes portfolio which he had been holding, he decided to allot it to Sridhar Babu.

Defending his action, he said as commercial tax collection had come down, he felt the need to hand over the portfolio to some other minister.

The chief minister's move evoked strong reaction from ministers of Telangana, who see it as a "conspiracy" to stall formation of separate Telangana state.

Sridhar Babu was divested of the key portfolio only two days before the state reorganization bill is to come up for debate in the state assembly.

The chief minister has given the portfolio to Primary Education Minister S. Sailajanath, who is from Seemandhra and strongly opposed to formation of Telangana state.

In an informal chat with reporters on Wednesday, he reiterated that he stand for a united Andhra Pradesh. He claimed that there were more demands from Telangana region to keep the state united.

Kiran Reddy, who has been openly criticizing Congress party's decision to bifurcate the state, said he had no plans to float a new political party. "Right now, I am focusing on the debate on the bill in the assembly," he said.

President Pranab Mukherjee last month referred Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill 2013 to state assembly for its views under Article 3 of the Constitution. He has asked the assembly to return the bill with its views by Jan 23.

--IANS (Posted on 01-01-2014)

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