With allocation of portfolios to the newly sworn-in ministers triggering a rebellion against Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy, the Congress high command has swung into action to defuse the crisis facing the new government.
As part of efforts to mollify the dissatisfied ministers, the chief minister has despatched ministers Aanam Ramanarayana Reddy and Kasu Venkata Krishna Reddy for talks with the rebellious ministers.
V Vasant Kumar, who was rural development minister earlier and now made tourism minister, sent his resignation to the chief minister late Wednesday night while many others were contemplating to follow suit.
Another senior minister Dharmana Prasada Rao, who has been shifted from the important revenue portfolio to roads and building, is said to be under tremendous pressure from his followers in Srikakulam district to step down rather than stomach the 'ignominy'.
Party sources said Sonia Gandhi's political secretary Ahmed Patel and Union Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad spoke to senior minister Botsa Satyanarayana, who is suspected to be behind the rebellion against Kiran Kumar Reddy.
Botsa reportedly told the AICC leaders that a lot of "injustice" was done to the backward castes in the allocation of portfolios as all the plum departments were handed over to the Reddys only.
The AICC leaders reportedly promised to talk to the Chief Minister and get back even as several sulking ministers met on Thursday morning to discuss their strategy. Botsa, in fact, told the Chief Minister late Wednesday night that "this (government) is not your private limited company" and cautioned that the issue would have serious repercussions.
Cooperation Minister K Venkata Krishna Reddy, who met few ministers at the Ministers Quarters here, told media persons that the issue would end soon.
"The Congress is all one family and everything will be alright soon," he said.
Replying to a query, he said Vasant Kumar has not quit as MLA. Asserting that problems, if any, can be sorted out, State Congress president D Srinivas appealed to the ministers to observe restraint.
"If there are any small defects anywhere, they can be resolved. My request to ministers is that they should observe restraint. I will speak to the Chief Minister and this issue should not snowball into a problem. My appeal to ministers is to observe restraint," he said.
The unhappy ministers did not openly spell out their course of action though there is talk that they may abstain from the first formal meeting of the new Cabinet later in the evening.
The main grouse of the disgruntled minister was that all the 'plum' portfolios (revenue-earning) were allocated to ministers belonging to the Reddy community while those from the backward classes were given 'insignificant' (non-revenue generating) portfolios.
While the Reddys got as many as 14 berths in the new Cabinet, the the backward classes were given about 10.
When it came to allocation of portfolios, prime ones like finance, agriculture, major irrigation, health, municipal administration and panchayat raj were given to Reddys, much to the chagrin of the BC ministers.
The dissenters were led by Botsa Satyanarayana, Dharmana Prasada Rao, Ponnala Lakshmaiah and Danam Nagender.