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How long will Kiran Reddy last as AP CM?

Last updated on: December 3, 2010 15:57 IST

Days or months? How long will Kiran Reddy last as AP CM?


Kalyani Shankar
Andhra Pradesh's new chief minister has been in trouble from day one.

With several serious challenges facing the state, the Congress will lose out in its southern bastion if it does not play its cards right, says Kalyani Shankar.

If K Rosaiah lasted for 15 months as Andhra Pradesh chief minister, his successor Kiran Kumar Reddy seems to be in trouble from day one. Just when the Congress high command heaved a sigh of relief that things may settle down after the change of chief minister, a rebellion within the Andhra Congress party has commenced.

Andhra Pradesh is a complex state with different groups and castes staking claims for a share of power.

The Congress party's central leadership has not handled the state well after then chief minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy's sudden death on September 2, 2009. It installed a weak chief minister in Rosaiah, then last December, the Centre announced that the process for the formation of a separate state would begin. An announcement that caused unrest in several parts of the state for months on end.

Under the circumstances it is uncertain how long Kiran Reddy will last as chief minister.

When he was sworn in last week, Andhra's political class gave him a six month honeymoon. But soon after his cabinet was sworn in on December 1, there is speculation how many days he will last in office.

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Image: Kiran Kumar Reddy seeks blessings before taking charge as Andhra chief minister
Photographs: Snaps India

Andhra Pradesh needs a ruthless leader

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There are several reasons for such pessimism. First of all, the choice of Kiran Reddy is not acceptable to many senior leaders in the trouble-torn Telangana region, which is demanding a separate state.

Had the Congress's central leadership chosen a senior leader from the Telangana region to head the state, the people of Telangana may have been placated.

However, the Congress leadership chose a politician from the Rayalaseema region, also disappointing the rich and powerful Andhra region.

For the first time the chief minister, the Leader of the Opposition (Telugu Desam Party chief Nara Chandrababu Naidu) and the leader of the third largest party (Chiranjeevi of the Praja Rajyam Party representing Tirupati) all hail from Rayalaseema.

Kiran Reddy is inexperienced in administrative matters and has only held party positions like chief whip and speaker of the state assembly.

Andhra Pradesh needs a ruthless leader who can deal with difficult issues. The problem with Reddy's predecessor K Rosaiah was that he looked to 10, Janpath for every action.

Reddy could well follow Rosaiah's footsteps.

Image: Andhra saw violent protests this year over a likely Telangana state
Photographs: Krishnendu Halder/Reuters
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Unhappy ministers add to Reddy's woes

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Reddy's government plunged into its first crisis on Thursday, less than 24 hours after the cabinet was sworn in, when a minister resigned over the portfolio allocated to him.

Vatti Vasantha Kumar sent in his resignation, both as tourism minister and member of the legislative assembly.

Some senior ministers like Botsa Satyanarayana feel Kiran Reddy had shown undue favour to his Reddy community by giving them the top 10 portfolios.

The Dalits are unhappy about the delay in the announcement of the deputy chief minister from the Telangana region. The backwards claim they have not got their due.

Kiran Reddy is not senior enough to deal with some senior ministers who held important portfolios in earlier governments. His cabinet was largely drawn up by the Congress leadership in Delhi. Congress leaders from Delhi had to cool down tempers by calling up the dissidents.

Kiran Reddy began his innings by playing a solo game. While he was camping in Delhi for consultations, he did not reach out to MPs and Union ministers from the state. He finds few backers among them now.

Image: Botsa Satyanarayana is one of many senior ministers who feels the CM has favoured the Reddys
Photographs: Snaps India
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Jagan and Telangana, major challenges for Kiran Reddy

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Kiran Reddy faces two nagging challenges -- a prickly Jagan Mohan Reddy and the Telangana issue.

The Congress will face a huge challenge when the Srikrishna Commission submits its report on Telangana to the central government at the end of this month.

With a vertically divided Congress party, is the chief minister equipped to deal with a volatile situation that may erupt after the report is submitted?

Jagan Reddy also looms large after his dramatic exit from the Congress party last week. He is bitter that the Congress did not make him chief minister after his father Y S Rajasekhara Reddy's death.

Jagan is young and resourceful and has a newspaper and television channel to promote his views and criticise his opponents. He is waiting for disgruntled elements to gravitate towards him after the new government starts functioning.

While Jagan may float a regional party, it will be untested as the assembly elections are three-and-a-half years away. The 37-year-old politician has to identify a cause that will strike a chord with the people. Voters are hardly like to buy his complaint that he was not rewarded by the Congress party. Money alone cannot get power in politics.

YSR's closest associate K V P Ramachandra Rao has distanced himself from Jagan. KVPR secured places in Kiran Reddy's cabinet for his followers while Jagan's supporters were dropped. YSR's brother Vivekananda Reddy also became a minister for the first time in his 25 year-long political career.

Image: Jaganmohan Reddy with his supporters

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For Congress, AP may go the UP way

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YSR got the Congress party 29 precious Lok Sabha seats from Andhra Pradesh in the May 2009 general election, which enabled the formation of the United Progressive Alliance-2 govrenment.

If the Congress wants to win a third consecutive election in Andhra Pradesh, it needs to be on top of the situation in its southern citadel.

Rival political parties like the Telugu Desam Party, the Telangana Rashtriya Samiti, the Praja Rajyam Party and Jagan's new outfit when it comes into being will split up Congress votes.

The Congress leadership may believe it has about 41 months to plan its strategy for the May 2014 general and assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh. But unless the party stirs now and resolves its internal troubles, Andhra Pradesh could become another Uttar Pradesh where regional parties hold the sway.

Image: Telugu Desam Party chief Nara Chandrababu Naidu

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