Hyderabad: That government is the best
which rules the least.
The Congress government in Andhra Pradesh seems to be
scrupulously following this mantra even as it is facing an
extraordinary situation now.
More than a dozen of its ministers are busy with the
by-elections to Kadapa Lok Sabha and Pulivendula Assembly
constituencies and over 12 IAS officers of different ranks are
out of the state, serving as election observers in West
Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
And, another 25-odd IAS officers are attending a
mandatory mid-career training programme at the Lal Bahadur
Shastri National Academy of Administration at Mussorie.
The ministers on "poll duty", on behalf of their
Congress party, are expected to return to work only after May
8, the date of polling.
Now, Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy has decided to
depute women ministers as well for campaigning in Pulivendula
Assembly constituency to attract women voters.
State Health Minister D L Ravindra Reddy is himself
contesting the by-election from Kadapa while Agriculture
Minister Y S Vivekananda Reddy quit his post to jump into the
fray from Pulivendula.
The IAS officers on official election work too will
return only after May 13 when counting of votes gets
completed. Those attending the training programme will come
back only after June 10.
The absence of ministers and bureaucrats on such a
massive scale has only left the government administration
completely paralysed and the citizens harried.
"In the last few months, the state administration was
limping because of the political turmoil. In the past few
days, it has been fully paralysed," a top-ranking bureaucrat
The current situation is unusual.
It`s probably for the first time that these many
bureaucrats had to leave the state for different purposes at a
time. Also, public servants are enjoying 14 holidays this
month, compounding the misery of common people who rely on
"Many IAS officers go for mandatory training
programmes every year but this time the poll schedule also
came up simultaneously, forcing the state to relieve too many
officers in one go," the bureaucrat pointed out.
He, however, reminded that there were several
"holidays" during April on one count or the other and hence
the impact (of absence of ministers and bureaucrats) might not
be entirely felt.
Of the ministers not on poll duty in Kadapa, only a
few are visiting the state Secretariat for official work.
Major Industries Minister J Geeta Reddy, an ardent
devotee of godman Satya Sai Baba, had camped in Puttaparthi
for more than 10 days since his hospitalisation late last
month. For the past four days now, she has again been camping
in Puttaparthi as the health of the Baba further deteriorated.
A couple of ministers were found in the Secretariat
only for the Cabinet meeting on April 16.
One minister could be found in the Secretariat quite
regularly, only addressing press conferences. Interestingly,
he is the lone minister from Telangana often venturing into
Andhra-Rayalaseema regions on official work.
Things have come to such a pass that a district
Collector had to cancel the all-important District Review
Committee meeting since the minister concerned was
Last week, another Collector could reach his district
minister over phone only after repeated attempts for two days,
just to invite the latter for an official programme in
connection with Ambedkar`s birth anniversary.
"It was an embarrassing situation, as the function
could not be held without the district minister. The minister
was not accessible even on phone but luckily we managed to get
across," the Collector pointed out.
With his Cabinet colleagues otherwise busy and with
most of the bureaucrats on official duties elsewhere, Chief
Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy has little work on hand.
Kadapa by-elections as well as the internal developments in
Congress are keeping the Chief Minister engaged more to
political affairs than official administrative issues.
Kiran too is expected to visit Kadapa on May 2 or 3
for electioneering along with Union Health Minister and
Congress state in-charge Ghulam Nabi Azad.
The current uncertainty in the administration is,
thus, expected to prevail at least till mid-May. But then, the
separatists seeking Telangana state have threatened to
re-launch their agitation from mid-May and this may only push
the administration into further chaos.