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Andhra Cabinet Reshuffle Sparks YSRCP Rebellion: 3 Aspects to Jagan's Gamble

Will the 13 new districts and 14 new ministers prove to be gamechangers for YS Jaganmohan Reddy?

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The massive cabinet overhaul by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy has triggered a small rebellion in the Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party (YSRCP).

From former home minister Mekathoti Sucharita to Jagan Mohan Reddy's kin Balineni Srinivasa Reddy, few of the 13 dropped ministers have raised the banner of revolt in the party.

Then supporters of dropped ministers like Pinnelli Ramakrishna Reddy, Samineni Udayabhanu, K Paradhasarathi and Karanam Dharmasri reportedly staged demonstrations in their respective constituencies.

While the cabinet reshuffle was carried out in line with Jagan's pre-election promise of bringing in new faces in the middle of his term, the extent of the exercise has left a number of dropped ministers and their supporters feeling miffed.

All in all, the Andhra CM included 14 new ministers and retained 11 from previous cabinet, including the five deputy chief ministers.

There are three aspects to the entire cabinet reshuffle exercise.

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1. Social Arithmetic

The government in its official release itself showcased that the cabinet reshuffle has increased representation for backward classes.

Now, 70 percent of Jagan's cabinet comprises members from SC, ST, OBC and minority communities.

On the one hand, the sole Kamma, Kshatriya and Vysya representatives present in the previous cabinet have been dropped.

This is in line with YSRCP's social base.

According to Lokniti-CSDS post-poll survey data from the 2019 elections, the YSRCP enjoyed a massive lead of over 70 percentage points over the TDP among ST voters and over 30 points among SC voters.

Along with Reddys, the YSRCP dominated these two voting blocs. The party also had a lead among Christian and Muslim voters.

On the other hand, the YSRCP trailed the TDP among Kamma and Upper Caste voters and it was behind both the TDP and Pawan Kalyan's Jana Sena among Kapu voters.

While Kammas and Kapus are the main vote base of the TDP and Jana Sena respectively, Upper Castes tend to favour the TDP over the YSRCP. The BJP is also said to be increasing its influence among Upper Caste voters.

Presently, there is buzz of a grand alliance between YSRCP's three main rivals – TDP, Jana Sena and the BJP.

While it is not clear whether such an alliance will work out, it does appear reasonably certain that at least two out of these three parties may contest in alliance in the next election, due in 2024.

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Given that any opposition to YSRCP would be aimed at consolidating Kamma, Kapu and Upper Caste votes, it appears that Jagan Mohan Reddy wants to ensure consolidation of the rest – SC, ST, Reddy, OBC and minority votes.

2. Centralisation of Power

While Jagan is the unquestioned leader of the YSRCP, it must be understood that it is a relatively young party, having completed 11 years only last month.

Therefore, there was a risk of entrenched ministers becoming alternative power centres despite Jagan's unquestioned leadership.

The cabinet reshuffle needs to be seen as part of a greater process of centralisation of power with Jagan.

Leaders loyal to the CM, who may have missed the bus during the first cabinet formation in 2019, have now been rewarded – Ambati Rambabu and RK Roja for instance.

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3. New Districts

A related development is the recent creation of 13 new districts in Andhra Pradesh by the YSRCP government. This had doubled the total number of districts in the state.

The creation of new districts has created new positions within the YSRCP party hierarchy, with new district committees set to be formed. Some of the dropped ministers could be accommodated in these positions.

The political significance of the new districts is different in different cases.

For instance, the newly created Parvathipuram Manyam district (carved out of Vizianagaram district) and Alluri Sitarama Raju district (carved out of Visakhapatnam) are both tribal dominated and are aimed at preserving the YSRCP's support in this segment.

The name is also important here as Alluri Sitarama Raju led a massive rebellion of Adivasis against the British in 1922.

Jagan surprised everyone by carving a new district out of Krishna district and naming it after the founder of his rival party TDP – NT Rama Rao.
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This is a clear dig aimed at TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu, who many accuse of having betrayed NT Rama Rao through a rebellion in the early 1990s.

The YSRCP government also granted a revenue division status to Naidu's own constituency Kuppam in Chittoor district, accusing him of neglecting his own area.

Coming back to Krishna district, the bifurcation is significant here. In the 2019 Assembly elections, the vote gap between YSRCP and TDP was lowest in Krishna district – just about 5 percentage points.

Even a small swing here could change a large number of seats in favour of the TDP.

Therefore, by creating a new district and invoking NTR, Jagan Mohan Reddy seems to be trying to win over a section of TDP leaning voters.

It is clear that the YSRCP chief is still thinking on his feet and trying every trick to contain the rise of the Opposition.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  N Chandrababu Naidu   TDP   YSRCP 

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