Thursday, 25 November 2010

Viewpoint: Enter Kiran Kumar Reddy: Not a crown of roses

By Syed Akbar
N Kiran Kumar Reddy, who took over as the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh on Thursday, is faced with a plethora of daunting tasks in the days to come. Though the transition of power from K Rosaiah to Kiran
Kumar Reddy has been a smooth affair, the administration of the State may not turn out to be a bed of roses for the new incumbent.

Kiran Kumar Reddy knows that he wears the crown of thorns, given the precarious financial situation of the State exchequer, the slowdown in the industrial sector, the lethargy in the administration, dissidence in
the Congress, and above all the simmering discontentment among separate Telangana and united Andhra supporters, both within the Congress and outside. He is also fully aware that his predecessor K Rosaiah, though a veteran politician, could not fully accomplish these tasks, leaving a big vacuum in the State administration.

And with the December deadline for Srikrishna panel report approaching fast, the separate Telangana or the united Andhra agitation would prove to be a major acid test for Kiran Kumar Reddy. Trouble is certain either way the Srikrishna panel gives its recommendation. The maintenance of  law and order in the next couple of months would then be a major test his administrative capabilities and political acumenship.

Kiran Kumar Reddy, no doubt, comes with a vast political experience and it's to be seen what political or social strategies he would adopt to maintain peace in the State once the T deadline ends. The Congress
high command has reposed faith in Kiran Kumar's leadership ahead of the anticipated T trouble, and it's to be seen how far he succeeds in the task.

Besides the adept tackling of the T issue, Kiran Kumar Reddy will have to take up a massive damage control exercise to keep the fair electoral image of the Congress intact. This may not be an easy task given the
strong Opposition and the internal wrangling and groupism in the State Congress, and the political missives the Jagan group would shoot occasionally, now that it's clear the Kadapa MP, YS Jaganmohan Reddy, had been sidelined during the change in the leadership.  He has to take along all groups in the Congress and strike a balance between pro-Telangana and united Andhra groups in the party.

Kiran Kumar Reddy will also find it hard, like Rosaiah, in providing adequate funds for populist schemes initiated by former chief minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy. Completion of irrigation projects including the
contentious Polavaram project across the river Godavari is another major challenge before the new leader. Irrigation projects are at various stages of completion and the Rosaiah administration had in a way kept
them in cold storage for want of sufficient funds.

While the State got a young chief minister in Kiran Kumar Reddy, the exit of Rosaiah has proved that vast experience in politics might make one a good politician, but not an able administrator or team leader. In
the 14 months he ruled over the State, Rosaiah could not leave a mark of his own. Rosaiah could not have his say even in the Cabinet he headed, and he simply drove the horse-cart of YSR. And with the party
high command holding the reins, things became worse for Rosaiah in matters, be it State administration or Cabinet reshuffle.

When Rosaiah took over, the expectations were quite high and he, in a way, could not gain the confidence of people, as YSR did. As Rosaiah succeeded a highly popular leader, people compared his administration
with YSR's regime. This, in a way, turned out to be an uphill task for Rosaiah. He could not come out of the shadow of YSR's immense popularity and Rosaiah had to invariably make a reference or two to
Rajasekhar Reddy in his political speeches.

It's going to be a tight rope walk for Kiran Kumar Reddy, both in the selection of his Cabinet and tackling various administrative issues and initiating policy decisions. Kiran Kumar Reddy has to come out of the
shadow of YSR and take bold policy decisions and strong administrative steps if he has to leave a mark on the State political horizon. Any wrong step will make him another Rosaiah.

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