Most Andhra ministers, bureaucrats on `special` duty
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Last Updated: Sunday, April 24, 2011, 10:40
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 observed. 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 government services.

"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 "unavailable."

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.

The 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.


First Published: Sunday, April 24, 2011, 10:40

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