His credentials couldn't be better. A former Speaker, the son of a Congress leader considered the political guru of the late and popular chief minister YS Rajashekhara Reddy (YSR), a disciplinarian with a clean image. In appointing N Kiran Kumar Reddy as the CM of Andhra Pradesh replacing K Rosaiah, the Congress has shown a smart bit of political thinking. Ever since YSR died in a helicopter crash, his son and Cuddapah MP, Jaganmohan Reddy has stirred up trouble in his bid to replace his father, something the party leadership was unwilling to concede. During the tenure of the ageing and ineffectual Mr Rosaiah, Mr Jaganmohan Reddy was able to whip up sentiment in his favour and trip up the party in the state by lashing out at the Congress president. But now the Congress has played its cards right in appointing Mr Kiran Reddy. He may have gone over the top a bit in suggesting that he would fulfil YSR's dream of delivering 41 seats for the party in 2014 and ensure that Rahul Gandhi becomes PM. But, he is known for his no-nonsense manner of functioning and his political skills were evident in his handling of the Telangana crisis earlier.
With Mr Kiran Reddy assuming power, Mr Jaganmohan Reddy will be hard put to accuse the party of frittering away his father's legacy. Those in the party who had revolted against
Mr Rosaiah and cast their lot in with him now don't want to be left out of the reshuffle that the new CM has promised.
Mr Jaganmohan Reddy's bid to win the sympathy of people using his father's name worked initially but Mr Kiran Reddy's promise of clean and effective governance seems to have struck a chord. In Kiran Reddy, people are likely to see a better replacement for YSR than the volatile Mr Jaganmohan Reddy. Had the latter been patient, the chief ministership may have come to him in the course of time. But in challenging the party president and seniors, he appears to have shot his bolt for the moment.
Mr Kiran Reddy, however, will try to bring about some reconciliation with Mr Jaganmohan Reddy as well as work towards a resolution of the Telangana issue. Both are fraught with difficulty, but many feel that the methodical Mr Reddy is up to the task. The lessons of Bihar cannot have been lost on Mr Reddy. He cannot be unaware that his being part of the powerful Reddy community made him the first among equals in the race for chief ministership. But if he does not perform, he knows that the caste factor alone will not ensure that it will be a smooth ride for him. How his tenure pans out will hold the difference to the Congress's future in the brittle world of southern politics in the next elections.