Showdown likely in AP, as Naidu calls for cabinet meet

A showdown between the officials and the state government seems to be inevitable with the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh Nara Chandrababu Naidu deciding to go ahead with the cabinet meeting scheduled for 14 May. Naidu says that the meeting is to review Fani cyclone relief, drinking water situation, seasonal conditions, and employment.

A showdown between the officials and the state government seems to be inevitable with the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh Nara Chandrababu Naidu deciding to go ahead with the cabinet meeting scheduled for 14 May. Naidu says that the meeting is to review Fani cyclone relief, drinking water situation, seasonal conditions, and employment.

However, the chief secretary LV Subrahmanyam appointed by the Election Commission made it clear that he sought permission from the EC on attending the cabinet meeting on 14 May.  Naidu, who initially called for the meeting on 10 May, postponed it to 14 May. “We are bound by the provisions of the model code of conduct.  EC has asked us to follow the poll code,” the CS said.  

Rule 19.6.1 of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) says “During the period of operation of the Model Code, no video conferencing shall take place between the Chief Minister/ministers/ political functionaries of the Union and state governments with the government officials”.

Senior bureaucrats are wondering who will prepare the agenda for the proposed cabinet meeting if the Chief Secretary decides to stay away from it. “ECs permission is required for the CS to prepare the agenda. If no agenda is prepared and no official notes are submitted, the cabinet meeting is likely to end up as an unofficial meeting,” they say.

Naidu who is equally serious about conducting the meeting is keen on taking action on those officers that skip the cabinet meeting. The chief secretary stayed away from the review meeting on four north coastal districts affected by the Fani cyclone. CS did not attend the meeting even as the EC has suspended Code, especially for the four districts.

Agriculture Minister Chandramohan Reddy threatened to move the Supreme Court to assert the rights of the state government. Another minister P Pulla Rao accused the chief secretary acting like an “extra-constitutional authority”. TDP spokesman Lanka Dinakar said that his party would launch an agitation in New Delhi against the discriminatory attitude towards AP.

Accusing the EC of denying him a level playing field as compared to the Centre and other states, Naidu shot off a letter to the Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora, questioning the poll panel’s authority in preventing the state intelligence chief from meeting him.  

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