Hyderabad: Andhra Pradesh assembly speaker Kiran Kumar Reddy was named to become the new chief minister of the state after K. Rosaiah, 77, submitted his resignation on Wednesday, citing poor health.
The Congress party made the change ahead of the scheduled submission of a crucial report on the state’s bifurcation next month.
“There are no political reasons behind my resignation,” Rosaiah told reporters at the state secretariat.
Union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee told reporters late on Wednesday night that “Kiran Kumar Reddy has been selected as the new leader of the CLP (Congress Legislature Party) by the Congress president and he will be sworn in as the new chief minister on Thursday morning.”
The Congress Legislature Party (CLP), comprising the party’s state assembly legislators, after a meeting attended by leaders from Delhi, had earlier adopted a unanimous resolution authorizing party president Sonia Gandhi to select the new leader.
Analysts said Rosaiah’s inability to contain dissidence may have hastened his exit. After serving several Congress governments in the state as finance minister, Rosaiah became chief minister on 3 September 2009 when the incumbent, Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, died in a helicopter crash.
But Reddy’s son Jagan Mohan Reddy, member of Parliament from Kadapa, rebelled against Rosaiah’s promotion. He toured across Andhra Pradesh to gather political support and challenged the state as well as the central leadership of the party.
Television channels and newspapers run by Jagan’s media house Sakshi criticized Rosaiah for discontinuing policies introduced by Reddy. On Friday, the TV channel aired a story on the Congress that showed the party’s national president Sonia Gandhi in poor light.
Telakapalli Ravi, analyst and the editor of Prajashakti Publications of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), said that by removing Rosaiah, the Congress has sought to negate three challenges.
“Firstly, the move snubs the aspirations of Jagan’s camp. It also eases out an ageing chief minister, who proved himself highly ineffective in handling the turbulence in the state. Thirdly, it also sets the ground for the Congress to handle political equations that will emerge in the state after the Srikrishna Committee submits its report on state bifurcation by December-end,” he said.
A five-member panel headed by former Supreme Court judge B.N. Srikrishna was set up this year to look into demands for the creation of a separate Telangana state, including Andhra Pradesh’s capital Hyderabad and adjoining districts.
The CLP meeting on Wednesday was attended by Gandhi’s political adviser Ahmed Patel and Union ministers Pranab Mukherjee, A.K. Antony, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Veerappa Moily, who is also in charge of Andhra Pradesh.
Soon after the meeting, Mukherjee had said the decision on the new leadership will be taken by the Congress president and communicated to the media.
Shankar Rao, a senior lawmaker, said before the meeting that it’s the usual practice to authorize the party president to nominate the new leader, who is then announced by central observers. A deputy chief minister may also be appointed this time, he said.
“Congress may choose the candidate (for chief ministership) from one of the strong social groups in the state—Reddy, Kamma and Kapu or Other Backward Classes—to woo them,” political analyst and academician G. Haragopal had said before the choice was made. “The new CLP leader is expected to effectively handle the political equations, emerging both from the state’s bifurcation issue and the likely split in the party by dissidents, including Jagan.”
Several Congress leaders told mediapersons during the day that a chief minister from the Telangana region could help the party smoothly handle the state’s bifurcation.
But K. Chandrasekhar Rao, president of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi, which has led the separate state campaign, said: “Formation of a separate Telangana state is the only solution to the problems of the region and we will not compromise till state formation.”
Actor-turned-politician K. Chiranjeevi, who heads the Praja Rajyam Party with 18 legislators, said he may consider supporting the Congress. “As of now, there is no such request from the Congress,” he said.
PTI contributed to this story.