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The Hindu
The Hindu
K. Umashanker

Peddireddi’s sway in Cabinet widens

The three Ministers from the shrunken Chittoor district in Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy’s revamped Cabinet have been entrusted with some key portfolios.

While district strongman Peddireddi Ramachandra Reddy has been given Energy, Forest, Environment and Science and Technology in addition to the previously held Mines and Geology, Mr. K. Narayanaswamy has been given Excise. As a new face in the Cabinet R.K. Roja, Nagari MLA, will be handling Tourism, Culture, and Youth Affairs.

Mr. Peddireddi, who goes by the titles ‘Peddayana’ and ‘Rayalaseema Tiger’ was the Forest Minister in the Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy-led Congress government in 2009. Post the demise of YSR and the replacement of then Chief Minister K. Rosaiah with N. Kiran Kumar Reddy, Mr. Peddireddi quit the post owing to differences with Mr. Kiran Kumar Reddy. He joined the YSR Congress Party in 2013 and made the party a formidable force in Chittoor district. In 2019, he led the party to an incredible victory in 13 out of 14 MLA seats in the district apart from drastically reducing the majority of the then Chief Minister and TDP national president N. Chandrababu Naidu in Kuppam.

The triumph of the YSRCP in the municipal elections, mandal and zilla parishad elections, and the panchayat polls in the Kuppam Assembly constituency remains directly attributed to Mr. Peddireddi’s efforts. The speculation that differences had cropped up between Mr. Jagan Mohan Reddy and Mr. Peddireddi since 2020 now stands shattered with the latter’s sway in the Cabinet getting further widened, having successfully tackled the burning issues of sand and granite smuggling in Chittoor district.

Ms. Roja, soon after the announcement of the portfolio, said she would completely devote her time to doing justice to her departments. However, her supporters maintain that she should immediately focus on tackling the growing dissent among the party cadres in almost all the five mandals of her Nagari Assembly constituency. In 2019, when “Jagan wave” had swept Chittoor with even several new faces winning with a huge majority of votes, Ms. Roja’s majority fell to a mere 2000 plus votes.

Neutral figure

Mr. K. Narayanaswamy, who now holds the Excise portfolio, is generally considered a neutral figure. Representing the GD Nellore Assembly constituency (SC reserved), Mr. Narayanaswamy has also emerged as a strong force to give voice to the SC communities all over Chittoor district. During his career as a politician for four decades, he is known for distancing himself from controversies and maintaining a clean image away from allegations of corruption.

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