Hyderabad, November 25: Kiran Kumar Reddy was sworn in as the new Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh today after K Rosaiah resigned on Wednesday citing health reasons.
The two big challenges for the Congress in Andhra Pradesh, a rebellious Jagan Mohan Reddy and the Telangana issue, will now be tackled by the new Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy whose name was announced late on Wednesday night as K Rosaiah’s replacement.
The change of guard took most by surprise including the new Chief Minister himself. A four-time MLA from Rayalseema region and a YSR loyalist, Kiran Kumar Reddy is likely to go to Delhi this evening or tomorrow morning.
K Rosaiah stepped down on Wednesday afternoon citing personal reasons. Senior Congress leaders from Delhi, including Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Law Minister Veerappa Moily, who is also the General Secretary in-charge of Andhra Pradesh, met with Congress MLAs in Hyderabad. A resolution was passed asking Sonia Gandhi to select the new leader.
"There are a lot of challenges ahead of me. I think with the cooperation of all the legislators and my party and the officers of the state I think, we can overcome all the problems," Kiran Kumar Reddy had said on Wednesday.
Reddy was the Speaker of the current Assembly, and was the Chief Whip of the Congress in the previous government of YS Rajashekhar Reddy.
Reddy was first elected to the state Assembly from Vayalpadu constituency in Chittoor district in 1989 but the lost the election in 1994. In 1999 and 2004, he was elected successively from the same constituency. He had to shift to Pileru constituency in 2009 because of delimitation.
He has played first-class cricket for Hyderabad. He was very close to the former chief minister YSR, but reportedly has strained relations with YSR’s son, Jagan Mohan Reddy.
"Sonia Gandhi has named Kiran Kumar Reddy as the new leader," Mukherjee told reporters late on Wednesday.
At a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, Rosaiah said his age makes it tough for him to continue in office. He also said he has faced problems with coordinating the party. Since Rosaiah was promoted from Finance to Chief Minister, he has faced considerable opposition from within the Congress, much of it provoked by Jagan Mohan Reddy, whose father was the immensely-popular YSR.
Over the last few days, the Congress in Andhra Pradesh has faced a public and massive attack from one of its own against the Prime Minister and Sonia Gandhi.
Last Friday, Sakshi TV, owned by Jagan Mohan, broadcast a program that was scathing in its assessment of both leaders. The channel’s management said Jagan Mohan was not aware of the show’s contents. Re-runs of the same show did not carry the controversial parts.
After his father died in a helicopter crash in 2009, Jagan has rebelled openly against the party’s decision to appoint Rosaiah as YSR’s successor. He conducted his Odarpu Yatra - a tour of the state and a show of strength, - in open defiance of the party which had ordered him to cut short the road show.
Despite the Sakshi TV attack, the Congress has decided that it will not penalise Jagan for now - the party believes it needs to focus on its battle with the Opposition in parliament over the 2G spectrum scam. This winter session has seen non-stop adjournment of both houses over the 2G issue.
The new chief minister takes over as the state waits with considerable tension for a report on whether it should be bifurcated. Telangana has been campaigning for statehood - the Union government agreed to that last December after different political parties expressed their support for a Telangana state.
However, they changed their minds after leaders from non-Telangana regions expressed their discontent with the bifurcation. The Centre then set up the Srikrishna Commission to investigate whether there’s consensus within the public and political parties on the issue. The Commission is expected to share its report in December.
Those in Telangana have organized several protests, some of which ended in violence, to insist that the government agree to a new state.