Amid the battle for finding a successor to the late YS Rajasekhara Reddy, Andhra Pradesh's caretaker Chief Minister K Rosaiah on Saturday said he would abide by the decision of the party's central leadership on choosing a new leader in the state.
"It is up to the high command to decide who should be the new leader. I will abide by whatever decision it takes on the issue," Rosaiah told reporters on his first day in office as chief minister.
He was asked if he would refuse to take the post in view of the growing demand for making YSR's son YS Jaganmohan Reddy the next chief minister.
Rosaiah, who is also the state finance minister, said he would not like to say anything on his choice for the top post.
"I would not have worked with five chief ministers by doing whatever I like. If the high command asks me to jump into the Hussain Sagar (the lake opposite state secretariat), I will do it," he said.
The 77-year-old leader was apparently unhappy over the manner in which some ministers and legislators were trying to pitch for Jaganmohan Reddy as the next leader.
"They may convey their feelings to the high command but pressurising somebody to pass a resolution is not proper," he said, refusing to elaborate.
The acting chief minister's remarks are significant as there is confusion on whether the first cabinet meeting chaired by him Thursday evening passed a resolution urging Congress president Sonia Gandhi to name Jaganmohan Reddy the next chief minister.
Some ministers loyal to YSR's family had claimed so after the cabinet meeting. The next day, the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) office sent a copy of the letter purportedly written by the cabinet to party chief Sonia Gandhi, informing her that the cabinet passed a unanimous resolution and urging her to name YSR's 37-year-old son as chief minister.
The letter had names of all 36 members of the council of ministers, including Rosaiah, but carried no signatures.
Some ministers and legislators supporting Jaganmohan Reddy's candidature have threatened to split the party if he was not named the next chief minister. The lobby claimed the support of 122 out of 155 legislators. The central leadership has reportedly expressed its displeasure over the threats and pressure tactics.
The CLP will meet after the seven-day mourning period is over to elect a new leader but it is likely to go by the choice of the central leadership.
Apart from Jaganmohan Reddy, a first time MP, and Rosaiah, central ministers S. Jaipal Reddy, D Purandareswari and Pallam Raju and state Congress chief D Srinivas are the likely contenders for the chief minister's post.
YSR, his special secretary, chief security officer and two pilots were killed when the helicopter carrying them from Hyderabad to Chittoor crashed in bad weather in Nallamalla forests in Kurnool district Wednesday morning. The charred bodies and the wreckage of the chopper were found the next day after one of the biggest search operations by Indian Air Force helicopters.