Five days after Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy’s death in a helicopter crash, a full-fledged Ministry is in place and has begun functioning after days of uncertainty caused by the strident demand by MLAs to anoint his son Jagan Mohan Reddy as Chief Minister.
Although the demand is still on top of the agenda of Congress MLAs and Ministers, the focus has shifted back to governance. Taking charge of the situation fully, Chief Minister K. Rosaiah, after speaking to Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram, announced that a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe would be conducted into the helicopter crash .
Ending days of political uncertainty, the freshly-sworn-in Ministers also resumed official work at the Secretariat and reviewed with the Chief Minister urgent issues such as containing the spread of swine flu, besides the progress of agriculture, which has been adversely affected by deficit rainfall — only 30 per cent till now.
Although he may not be well known outside Andhra Pradesh, Mr. Rosaiah is a seasoned leader with five decades of political experience . As Finance Minister under different Chief Ministers, he has presented the State budget, vote-on-account or a full-fledged one, as many as 15 times, including seven in a row now, a record in the country.
For his vast experience, the 76-year-old veteran was chosen by the Congress high command to succeed Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy hours after his death was confirmed. Mr. Rosaiah’s distinction as a Minister who held a range of portfolios from health to transport outstrips his merit as a political leader, barring a none-too-comfortable stint as president of the Andhra Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC).
A disciple of the Swatantra Party leader and freedom fighter Prof. N. G. Ranga, Mr. Rosaiah earned laurels as a fiery orator in the legislature, especially the Legislative Council. He ruthlessly attacked the ruling party but was no demagogue when speaking at public meetings. Nor did he ever have a mass following. As an Opposition leader in the Council, he gave a tough time to the then Chief Minister M. Channa Reddy during 1978-80 but sullied his record by defecting from the Congress (R) to the then ruling party, the Congress (I).
He started as a reluctant leader as shown by his impromptu comment that he would rather prefer to jump into the nearby Hussain Sagar lake than accept the Chief Minister’s job. This could be partly because he has had to work in the past under the shadow of some domineering Chief Ministers. Another thing that is held out against him is that he was never a hardcore politician who would assiduously work his way up and create a niche for himself at the top and take bold decisions.
Having taken over from a highly popular leader like YSR, Mr. Rosaiah’s performance will be compared to his predecessor’s and every move is bound to come under close scrutiny. But Congress leaders who have seen his career graph say he will pull it off, provided he gets a reassurance from the party high command that he was here to stay and not merely heading a transition government.