Departed Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy was too young to do succession planning. And with his sudden death, the question on everybody’s mind is who his successor should be.
In New Delhi, through her day-long consultations, including with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the party’s core group meeting, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi responded swiftly to the emotional crisis created by the tragedy.
The party high command picked Reddy’s No. 2, Finance Minister K. Rosaiah, to take charge. Rosaiah, 77, has been finance minister in at least four Congress governments in the state in the past.
Back in Hyderabad, however, the spotlight fell on Reddy’s 36-year-old son, Jagan Mohan, as local party leaders overwhelmingly launched a campaign to make the first-time MP the next chief minister.
Reddy, who won his first election from the family’s pocket borough Cuddapah, has so far kept a low profile. He has been focusing on the family’s business empire, which spans from real estate to media and entertainment, and runs into thousands of crores.
Before the body of the deceased leader reached Hyderabad, factions in the Congress started making a pitch for Reddy the son in order to preclude the chances of anyone else who could be having an eye on the seat. The state cabinet, which met in the evening, is reported to have arrived at a consensus that Jagan Mohan should be chief minister. Minister for Municipal Administration and Urban Development Anam Ramnarayan Reddy, Minister for Health and Family Welfare Danam Nagendar, Minister for Women and Child Development Konda Surekha said that they wanted Jagan Mohan as chief minister.
According to reports, a resolution signed by 120 MLAs and 30 MPs was sent to the high command asking for Jagan Mohan to be appointed chief minister.
Will the new arrangement with Rosaiah as chief minister, seen as interim, hold, particularly in a state where the Reddys have dominated politics despite exceptions like chief ministers P. V. Narasimha Rao and Vengal Rao?
Things may not be rosy for Rosaiah, who has wide administrative and political experience and has been functioning as number two in the state government. But Jagan Mohan, who entered the Lok Sabha in 2009, hasn’t enough experience for the job, either. There is speculation that he may contest from his father’s constituency to prepare himself for the chief minister’s job.