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Straight into the deep end

The new Andhra CM must focus more on development to transcend identity politics.

india Updated: Dec 02, 2010 23:25 IST

Barely has he got off the starting block, the new Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy has run into a maze from which he will have to find his way out. One MLA has resigned and five others are threatening to on the grounds that they have been given insignificant portfolios in the new cabinet which was formed on Wednesday. Waiting in the wings to exploit these fissures is Jaganmohan Reddy, son of the late chief minister YS Rajashekhara Reddy. Jaganmohan was MP from Kadapa before both he and his mother resigned from the party in protest against the Congress’s refusal to make him chief minister.

While Jaganmohan may have been neutralised to some extent at present, his capacity to undermine Mr Kiran Reddy cannot be underestimated. Mr Kiran Reddy’s trial by fire will come when the Srikrishna Commission submits its report on the contentious Telangana issue some time early in January. The central government will be bound to act on it and whether it endorses a separate state or not, there will be unrest and massive political rumblings. Mr Reddy will have to formulate a gameplan to not just deal with Jaganmohan Reddy but also the acerbic K Chandrashekhar Rao, leader of the Telangana Rashtriya Samiti which has been spearheading a campaign for Telangana.


The fallout of developments in Andhra Pradesh will have significant ramifications on the Congress as a whole. The state contributed 33 MPs to the Congress kitty in the last parliamentary elections in 2009, a number not to be sneezed at. While Jaganmohan Reddy may have to wait a while to grab the chief ministership, he can unsettle Mr Kiran Reddy and make his government ineffective. Mr Reddy has enormous challenges like farmers’ suicides, poor agricultural production and shaky investor confidence to deal with. While he is known to be methodical and disciplined, the quicksilver world of Andhra Pradesh politics also requires a degree of canny political manoeuvring, something the late YSR developed to a fine art.

With the loss in Bihar, the Congress cannot take it for granted that it will come up trumps in the northern states in the next election. Given that it has a restive ally like the DMK in Tamil Nadu, it has to retain a stronghold like Andhra Pradesh. Mr Kiran Reddy has to move quickly to dispel the notion that he is favouring his own caste in portfolio allocation. His focus has to be on delivering the goods on the development front. This will transcend all other forms of identity politics, if he is able to replicate the Nitish Kumar model. The choice of Mr Kiran Reddy was a smart one by the Congress. It now has to keep him steady as he navigates choppy waters in the months ahead.