Andhra Pradesh Health Minister D L Ravindra Reddy, who had been a vocal critic of various schemes launched by Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy, was sacked from the cabinet on Saturday night.
The chief minister removed Ravindra a day after he held talks with Congress chief Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi over the revamp of the state Council of Ministers.
The chief minister, who returned from a two-day trip to New Delhi last night, forwarded to Governor E S L Narasimhan the recommendation for dismissal of the health minister for the Cabinet, sources in the Chief Minister's Office said.
"In exercise of the powers conferred upon me under Article 164(1) of the Constitution of India, and on the advice of the chief minister, I hereby declare that D L Ravindra Reddy ceases to be a minister with immediate effect from the Council of Ministers," Governor E S L Narasimhan said in a notification issued subsequently.
Ravindra Reddy is currently touring London along with his family and is expected to return to the state on June 4.
A bitter critic of the Chief Minister, Ravindra was the second minister after P Shanker Rao to be sacked from the Kiran Kumar Reddy Cabinet even as indications are that one or two more ministers may meet the same fate soon.
Endowments Minister C Ramachandraiah, who too had been publicly criticising the government and the chief minister over different issues, could also be removed from the Cabinet.
But whether the Congress high command agreed to Ramachandraiah's dismissal remains to be seen,given the implications the move could have.
Ramachandraiah, who hails from Kadapa district like Ravindra Reddy, was inducted into the cabinet after the Praja Rajyam Party's merger with Congress in January last year and the Congress high command will have to first convince Union Minister of State for Tourism K Chiranjeevi on the former’s removal.
Ravindra, a senior-most MLA who had previously served in the cabinets of M Channa Reddy and Kotla Vijayabhaskara Reddy, was inducted into the state cabinet in December 2010 when Kiran Kumar Reddy became the chief minister.
He, however, turned a strong critic of the chief minister and openly criticized the "unilateral style of functioning" of Kiran and the schemes he launched.
Be it the Re 1-a-kg rice scheme, the hike in power tariff or the latest Bangaru Talli (girl child incentive scheme), Ravindra found fault with the schemes and criticized the chief minister.
He also went to the extent of exhorting people to "chase and thrash us" if the new schemes (announced by the CM) were not properly implemented.
Speaking to a Telugu television channel in London following his dismissal from the cabinet, Ravindra denied he had any personal rift with Kiran Kumar.
"I have differences on certain policy issues and it is only in true democratic spirit that I aired my views on such issues," he said.
The talk in Congress circles is that Secondary Education Minister K Parthasarathy, who is holding additional charge of the Excise Department as well, may also be dropped as he was convicted by a local court in a FERA (Foreign Exchange Regulation Act) violation case.
But that may happen only when the chief minister gets the Congress high command's nod for a full-scale re-organisation of the state cabinet.
Party sources say the revamp may happen only after the budget session of the state legislature in the third week of June.
The chief minister, who is scheduled to visit New Delhi for a meeting convened by the Union Home Ministry on June 5 on the Maoists' issue, is expected to discuss the cabinet issue again with the AICC leadership.