Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Konijeti Rosaiah on Wednesday stepped down after14-and-a-half months in office citing “advanced age and work pressure” and Speaker of the Assembly Nallari Kiran Kumar Reddy was chosen by the AICC leadership to succeed him.

Fifty-year-old Reddy will be sworn in as the 16th Chief Minister by Governor E.S.L Naraimhan at Raj Bhavan at 10 a.m. on Thursday. The Governor earlier accepted Mr. Rosaiah's resignation and requested him to continue in office till the formation of a new government.

On a day of swift developments, Mr. Rosaiah declared his intention to quit at a press conference in the Secretariat from where he drove to the Raj Bhavan and submitted his resignation. Mr. Rosaiah succeeded Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy on September 3, 2009 after the latter was killed in a helicopter crash.

The 78-year-old Chief Minister told The Hindu that the strain of office was telling upon his health and he had requested the All India Congress Committee (AICC) leadership during his visit to New Delhi on Tuesday to relieve him “of the burden.”

Twin challenges

Under these circumstances, the AICC leadership favoured putting in place a new Chief Minister who has the energy and stomach for facing the twin challenges of the agitation for a separate Telangana State and the continued defiance by Congress MP Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy. Another factor that appeared to weigh in favour of a change was the need for the government to be prepared to face the fall-out of the Justice Srikrishna Committee's report on the Andhra-Telangana issue. The report is expected to be submitted before December 31.A team of senior AICC leaders comprising Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Defence Minister A.K. Antony, Law Minister Veerappa Moily and Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad flew in here by a special flight from New Delhi as observers for a CLP meeting to choose Mr. Rosaiah's successor.

Resolution passed

The CLP unanimously adopted a one-line resolution, requesting Congress president Sonia Gandhi to select the new leader. It passed another resolution expressing deep appreciation for the services rendered by Mr. Rosaiah as Chief Minister.

Mr. Mukherjee briefed Ms. Gandhi about the CLP proceedings. He later invited Mr. Kiran Kumar Reddy to the Lake View Guest House for consultations after which an official announcement was made that Ms. Gandhi had chosen Mr. Reddy as the new CLP leader.

After his return from New Delhi on Tuesday evening, Mr. Rosaiah kept his decision to quit a secret till the last moment. He announced late at night that a CLP meeting was being convened to discuss party affairs. A majority of the 33 Ministers were also in the dark.

“No political reason”

Mr. Rosaiah held that there were no political reasons for his resignation. He said that earlier, as Finance Minister, he had to handle only one department, but upon his elevation as Chief Minister, he had to coordinate the activities of all the departments. “The burden on me became heavy,” he said.

Deputy CM

PTI reports:

Mr. Moily told journalists that Ms. Gandhi had decided that the State would have a Deputy Chief Minister from the Telangana region. The name for the post will be decided later, he said.