Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao has finally decided to expand his Telangana Cabinet on 19 February, just two days before the presentation of vote-on-account Budget in the Legislative Assembly and almost two months after he took oath along with another minister following an overwhelming win in the elections by the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS).
The chief minister met Governor ESL Narasimhan Friday afternoon at Raj Bhavan and conveyed his decision to expand the state Cabinet. According to a statement issued by the chief minister’s office, Rao chose an auspicious day according to the Lunar calendar to expand his Cabinet after functioning for two months with a lone minister Md Mahmood Ali who was given the charge of home department.
Rao is known for his strong belief in astrology and vaastu and has often come under criticism for being superstitious. However, according to KCR he had held back the formation of his Cabinet in order to restructure some of the departments. The swearing-in ceremony will be held at 11:30 am on 19 February. Since the vote-on-account Budget will be presented before the Assembly on 22 February it will leave the new finance minister with only two days to prepare the Budget speech unless the chief minister prefers to keep the finance portfolio with himself.
Opposition Congress had already submitted a memorandum to governor ESL Narasimhan complaining that it was against the Constitution to not have a council of ministers to advise him and that the minimum number of ministers must be 12.
Since the Cabinet is required to approve the Budget before being presented before the Assembly it might have forced the CM’s hand to finally go for Cabinet expansion.
However, in the absence of a finance minister the chief minister himself presided over meetings on Budget preparation. Rao held a meeting on budget formulation with top officials, including chief secretary, on Thursday.
He clarified that in his second term in office priority will be continued to be given to welfare schemes and development of agriculture.
He directed officials that there should be adequate budgetary provision for existing schemes as well as to meet the commitments made during recent Assembly elections in the state. Once the Budget is presented on 22 February discussions will be held the next day while the House will adopt the Appropriation Bill on 25 February.
Meanwhile, condemning the attack on CRPF jawans in Kashmir Rao appealed to party leaders and his followers against celebrating his birthday on 17 February “in this hour of grief when the entire nation was in a state of mourning”.
TRS working president KT Rama Rao asked supporters to instead mark the occasion with blood donation camps, pledges for organ donation and tree plantation.
CRPF took out a candlelight march at Necklace Road on Friday and observed silence in memory of those killed in the terrorist attack in Pulwama. BJP’s lone MLA Raja Singh organised a candle march from the BJP party office to mourn the killings of CRPF jawans.