Andhra’s youngest minister misses constitutional deadline, resigns

Updated 5:05 PM, 11 May, 2019
Sravan, a 29-year-old IIT graduate was inducted into the cabinet on November 11, 2018 after the death of his father and TDP MLA Kidari Sarveshwar Rao

Andhra Pradesh’s Tribal welfare minister Kidari Sravan Kumar, the youngest member in the cabinet, was forced to resign on Thursday (May 9) under peculiar circumstances.

Sravan, a 29-year old engineering graduate from IIT (BHU), Varanasi, was inducted into the cabinet on November 11 last year, nearly two months after his father and the ruling Telugu Desam Party (TDP) MLA Kidari Sarveshwar Rao was gunned down by Maoists in Visakhapatnam district. Since he is not a member of the Assembly or the Legislative Council, it is mandatory, as per the constitutional provisions, for him to become a lawmaker within the six-month period from the day of induction into the cabinet.

The mandatory period ends on May 11. Sravan had contested from his father’s constituency, Araku in Visakhapatnam district, in the April 11 elections. The results will be declared on May 23.

After Sarveshwar Rao’s death, the Election Commission did not notify the by-elections to Araku seat since the Assembly elections were only a few months away.

Ceases to be a minister

The state Governor ESL Narasimhan, in a communication to the government, pointed out that as per the Article 164 (4) of the Constitution,  a minister who, for any period of six consecutive months, is not a member of the legislature of the state shall, at the expiration of the period, ceases to be a minister.

Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu sought legal opinion to explore the option of letting Sravan continue in his team till the declaration of the results on May 23. However, the experts advised against his continuance in the cabinet as it would amount to violating the constitutional provisions.

As a result, the minister was asked to put in his papers.

“After the demise of my father who represented Araku constituency, the by-election was not held within the mandatory period. As a responsible citizen, it is my duty to follow the constitution in true spirit and upkeep the high values of the democratic system. I hereby tender my resignation from the cabinet,” Sravan said in his resignation letter.

Sravan was inducted into the cabinet along with NMD Farooq who was given the minorities welfare portfolio. While Farooq was already a member of the legislative council, Sravan could not become either an MLC or an MLA because of the announcement of election schedule in March.

Maoist violence

The September 23 attack, in which Sarveswara Rao and another former legislator Siveri Soma were killed, came as a grim reminder of the Maoists’ ability to strike at will in the region. The attack came after a prolonged lull in Maoist activity in the area.

The two leaders were on their way to attend a party programme in Araku when they were attacked by Naxalites near Thutangi village, about 125 km from Visakhapatnam.

Both died on the spot and a few TDP workers sustained minor injuries in the gunfire. Around 50 armed activists of the CPI (Maoist), including some women members, took part in the attack.