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The Rediff Election Special / A Ganesh Nadar in Hyderabad

The making of a leader

May 12, 2004

There is something about victory, and a massive one at that.

Take, for example, the Congress' magnificent performance in the Andhra Pradesh assembly election. It puts everyone, especially the victors, in a mood to celebrate.

As a result, the AP assembly building received a fresh coat of white paint. The Congressmen, also dressed in pristine white, were arriving to elect their leader and the man who would become the next chief minister of Andhra Pradesh.

The newly elected Congress MLAs glowed with the thrill of victory. The 40-degree heat had no effect on them; after all, they were cocooned in the comfort of their air-conditioned cars. They were also basking in the adulation of a motley crew of friends and supporters.

The police allowed only the MLAs -- each one carried a certificate issued by their respective collectors proving they had won their seat -- and the media into the committee hall.

Inside, the photographers jostled each other. The newly-elected MLAs sat down -- women MLAs sat separately -- after waving to everyone they knew.

The older the MLA, the more people they knew, the longer they waved.

The atmosphere was a combination of uncontrolled chaos, bonhomie and NOISE.

There was a hush as soon as Congress observers Ghulam Nabi Azad and Shivraj Patil entered the hall, accompanied by Dr Y S Rajasekhar Reddy -- the man who spearheaded the Congress truimph -- and state Congress president D Srinivas.

Srinivas promptly took charge. "Press photographers, reporters, others leave the hall immediately. Only MLAs and MPs can sit here. This is an in camera meeting; that means no cameras here," he grinned.

The media did not appreciate the banter; they were none to happy at being forced to miss this historic moment. The decision was a forgone one, but everyone still wanted to be there. They finally left after being assured they would be let inside once the proceedings came to an end.

An hour later, a few stragglers continued to rush in importantly.

Two-and-a-half hours after the meeting began, the Andhra Pradesh Congress Legislature Party had a leader.

And Andhra Pradesh had a new chief minister -- Dr Yedugoori Sandinti Rajasekhar Reddy.

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India Votes 2004 | The Rediff Specials

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