Telangana will have a 'foreign minister' and he's the CM's son

K Taraka Rama Rao already holds seven portfolios.

 |  3-minute read |   12-07-2016
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Telangana chief minister K Chandrashekar Rao (KCR) seems to be inspired by his Delhi counterpart Arvind Kejriwal. While Kejriwal is the only chief minister in the country to not hold any portfolio, Telangana is all set to be the first state in the country to create an "external affairs" or "foreign" ministry. Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi holds a number of portfolios, such as personnel, public grievances and pensions, atomic energy and space but Kejriwal is a CM without a portfolio.

Though the announcement in Telangana to this effect is yet to be made, KCR's son K Taraka Rama Rao (KTR) is being touted as the natural choice to don the mantle of "first external affairs minister" of Telangana, or for that matter any state in the country.

In most likelihood, KCR's move - if reports about creation of a new external affairs ministry are true - will prove to be high on hype and low on substance and here's why:

1. Union's preserve

Just like defence, external affairs ministry too is the exclusive preserve of the Union. The Constitution does not mandate any state, other than the Centre, to have a separate ministry for dealing in relations with foreign countries. It is ordained in order to have a uniform foreign policy and a unitary character of the country. If KCR desires to have the same powers and functions for his son KTR as is available to Union external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj, then it will be struck down before even it materialises. Hence, it will be a non-starter.

2. Misnomer

KCR will set a bad precedent by creating an "external affairs" or "foreign" ministry because this nomenclature is in itself misleading. It gives the impression of the state having its separate foreign policy.

kcrktrinside120716mb_071216070704.jpg Is Telangana chief minister KCR promoting his son KTR at the cost of constitutional propreities?

There is no need for an external affairs ministry because Telangana already has an NRI affairs ministry, and which is held by KTR. Incidentally, KTR holds seven portfolios - the maximum to be held by any minister in KTR's cabinet. The portfolios include those of information technology, municipal administration and urban development, industries and commerce, public enterprises, sugar, mines and geology and NRI affairs.

Moreover, the state government is planning to implement a new NRI policy. KTR has said the draft of the NRI policy is ready and a meeting would be called on July 16 before finalising it. Hence, why not call it an NRI affairs ministry or foreign investment ministry instead of an external affairs or foreign ministry?

3. Learning from Punjab, Kerala

Telangana's draft NRI policy recommends a separate secretariat for the new ministry. If the purpose of such a ministry will be just to promote Telangana off-shore and attract investment, there is no need to create a fresh controversy over it or clash with the Centre.

Punjab and Kerala - the two states which can boast of maximum NRIs - also have similar ministries. Punjab's deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal holds the portfolio of investment promotion, while Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan is in charge of non-resident Keralites affairs department.

What if all states take a cue from KCR and they too follow suit? It will unnecessarily lead to chaos and duplicity of functions.

At the moment it is external affairs. It will not be a wonder if Telangana announces its own defence ministry and reasons out that its function will be to defend the state from the Naxals.

By planning to make his son the first external affairs minister, KCR clearly is trying to promote him and make him the "No 2" in his cabinet. And, by designating KTR as the first external affairs minister, he is just trying to create a media hype.

Writer

Kumar Shakti Shekhar Kumar Shakti Shekhar @shaktishekhar

Delhi-based journalist with more than 20 years of experience in reporting for print, TV & digital media.

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