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Governor invites YSR to form Government

By Our Special Correspondent

HYDERABAD, MAY 12. The Andhra Pradesh Governor, S. S. Barnala, today invited Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy, to form a new Government following his unanimous election as leader of the Congress Legislature Party.

Accepting the invitation, Dr. Reddy announced that his Government would be sworn in at a public function to be held at the Lal Bahadur stadium between 1.30 p.m. and 2 p.m. on Friday. As the consultations for Cabinet formation are yet to begin, the Chief Minister-designate declined to specify whether some Ministers would be sworn in along with him or whether he would take MLAs of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) on board his Ministry.

In tune with his promise of providing free power to farmers, Dr. Reddy declared that the one of the first acts of the Congress Government after assuming office would be waiving all arrears of power bills of farmers in the State. The public sector power utility, APTransco, began an exercise to ensure that the first file signed by the new Chief Minister would be an order to provide free power to farmers.

The Governor's invitation climaxed a day of fast-paced developments. The AICC observers — Ghulam Nabi Azad and Shivraj Patil — supervised the not-so-smooth election of Dr. Rajasekhara Reddy as CLP leader to pave the way for his take over as the 14th Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh. Nearly all the 186 newly elected MLAs of the Congress attended the meeting held in the Legislative Assembly premises.

The three-hour-long CLP meeting completed the formality of adopting a resolution authorising the Congress president, Sonia Gandhi, to choose the leader. The observers adjourned to a nearby room and conveyed the resolution to Ms. Gandhi who immediately announced that her choice was Dr. Rajasekhara Reddy.

The observers lost no time in getting the APCC president, D. Srinivas, and the former Deputy Chief Minister, Koneru Ranga Rao, to propose and second the name of Dr. Reddy as newly elected MLAs thumped the desks in approval.

Briefing presspersons, K.R. Suresh Reddy, MLA, said Dr. Reddy had spoken of providing a people-friendly and transparent Government. It would fulfil all the promises made in the election manifesto, including free power to the farm sector. Agriculture, irrigation, power, employment generation and industrial development would be the thrust areas. All good policies of the previous Government would be continued.

Mr. Azad thanked the people of the State for reposing faith in the Congress, and said the verdict would infuse enthusiasm in other States. It would bring the State back on the path of development.

Later, the PCC chief wrote a letter to the Governor informing him about the unanimous election of Dr. Reddy as the CLP leader and requesting him to invite the latter to form a Government. He sent the letter through the former MP, P. Upendra, along with a team of newly elected MLAs. Later, Dr. Reddy drove over to the Raj Bhavan to pay a courtesy call on the Governor and discuss arrangements for the swearing-in function. The Chief Minister-designate left for New Delhi in the evening to consult Ms. Gandhi on the issue of Cabinet formation. He is expected to return here on Thursday evening.

Congress sources said that once the Cabinet was formed, it would have to recommend to the Governor to convene a session of the Assembly to ratify the vote-on-account budget for 2004-05.

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