HYDERABAD: Telangana Chief Minister and TRS president K. Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) has sprung a surprise by fielding his daughter and former MP K. Kavitha to an MLC seat from the local bodies’ constituency for which election will be held later this month. As the ruling TRS has enough majority in the local bodies’ seat from the erstwhile combined Nizamabad district, her election is just a formality.
This development has caught the entire ruling party by surprise as everyone had thought that Kavitha would be sent to Rajya Sabha as an MP in the ongoing biennial elections. Her name figured prominently as a probable before the nominations. However, KCR nominated present Rajya Sabha MP K. Keshav Rao and former Andhra Pradesh Assembly Speaker K.R. Suresh Reddy for the two Rajya Sabha seats from Telangana. They were declared elected unopposed as there were no other nominations from the Opposition Congress which doesn’t have numbers. After the Rajya Sabha elections, the party seniors, including the ministers, were of the view that the Chief Minister had dropped plans to make his daughter a lawmaker through indirect election. Some of them even remarked that Kavitha would have to wait till next parliamentary polls to become an MP. However, the Chief Minister took everyone by surprise by nominating Kavitha as an MLC candidate for the Council early this week and entrusted Roads and Buildings Minister Vemula Prashant Reddy the responsibility of ensuring her victory in the polls to be held next week. Though Congress has no numbers, it has fielded Subhash Reddy as its candidate and BJP’s Lakshminarayana, too, jumped in the fray.
Of around 650 votes in the seat—all of them elected public representatives—TRS has around 500 votes and the rest from other parties. Kavitha’s election is almost certain. Though the term of the seat is for just 22 months as the vacancy was caused by defection of a TRS MLC Bhupathi Reddy to Congress before December 2018 Assembly elections, Kavitha is certain to get another full term after that. As soon as Kavitha filed her nomination papers, there were celebrations in the ruling party hailing her as the future minister in her father’s Cabinet. A large number of party leaders, including ministers, MPs, MLA,MLCs and others, greeted her on coming into active political life after her defeat in the May 2019 Lok Sabha elections in the hands of BJP’s Aravind Dharmapuri from the Nizamabad Lok Sabha seat. Though sources in the ruling party admit that Kavitha becoming a minister is almost a certainty, there is a technical problem for her. Already, KCR’s Cabinet is in full strength of 18, including the Chief Minister. As per the administrative reforms committee norms, Telangana, with 120 MLAs (including a nominated member), cannot have more than this (15% of the strength of the Assembly). So, one of the present ministers will have to resign to accommodate Kavitha into the Cabinet. It is to be seen, if KCR asks one of the ministers to quit in the coming weeks or waits for a massive Cabinet reshuffle so that there can be more changes. Kavitha’s supporters, who include activists of her own outfit, Telangana Jagrithi, are confident that she would become a minister by Dasara festival, around October. However, there are others who feel that the CM might take more time for a Cabinet reshuffle in which he might drop three or four ministers and induct an equal number, including Kavitha. To monitor their performance, KCR might need more time, may be around three years, so that the post-reshuffle ministers would be his 2023 election team. Moreover, if Kavitha is taken into the Cabinet, three family members of KCR—he, his son KTR and daughter—would be in the same government, while another close relative—his nephew T. Harish Rao, also a minister with finance portfolio. Another relative of KCR, J. Santosh Kumar, is a Rajya Sabha MP. The CM might wait for some time to make Kavitha a minister to ward off criticism.