Rosaiah resigns, Congress goes into huddle to elect new leader (Second Lead)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

HYDERABAD - Politics in Andhra Pradesh Wednesday took a dramatic turn as Chief Minister K. Rosaiah tendered his resignation on health grounds and the ruling Congress party legislators holding an emergency meeting to elect a new leader.

Nearly 15 months after he took over, the 78-year-old Rosaiah said he was unable to withstand the work pressure because of his age.

“There is no specific reason. Because of my age and because of the situation I am not able to withstand. So I sought permission from the high command for my resignation and at last they have agreed and permitted me. I am grateful to the high command, particularly Srimati Sonia Gandhi,” Rosaiah told reporters.

Rosaiah denied any political reasons behind his decision. He said he was satisfied with his work during the last 14 months and thanked Gandhi and all party leaders and legislators.

“I am neither a big leader nor I have any group in the party but Sonia Gandhi and others in the Congress Working Committee chose me as the chief minister following the tragic death of Rajasekhara Reddy. I accepted the responsibility as a disciplined soldier,” said Rosaiah, who has a political experience of over five decades.

Minutes after making the announcement at a news conference, he drove to Raj Bhavan, submitted his resignation to Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan and requested him to accept it with immediate effect.

A statement from Raj Bhavan said the governor has accepted Rosaiah’s resignation but asked him to continue till an alternate arrangement is made.

The Congress Legislature Party (CLP) will elect a new leader at an emergency meeting Wednesday evening.

Senior party leaders and central ministers Pranab Mukherjee, A.K. Antony, Veerappa Moily and Ghulam Nabi Azad will be attending the CLP meet as central observers.

The 78-year-old leader took over as the chief minister Sep 3 last year following the death of Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy in a helicopter crash.

The resignation came amid mounting pressure from a section of party leaders for action against party MP Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy in the wake of a programme telecast by his Sakshi TV channel criticising Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

Rosaiah, who is a member of the legislative council and unlike his predecessor lacks a mass base, reportedly stepped down to enable the central leadership to choose his successor, if it believes that a new leader can effectively tackle Jagan and also the situation likely to emerge from the report of the Srikrishna Committee on the demand for separate statehood to Telangana.

The committee is to submit its report next month and pro-Telangana groups have already warned of a “bloodbath” if the committee does not recommend carving out a separate Telangana state.

Union minister S. Jaipal Reddy and state minister J. Geeta Reddy, both hailing from Telangana, have emerged as frontrunners for the post. State Assembly Speaker N. Kirankumar Reddy is also a strong contender.

Rosaiah, at the press conference, admitted that he lost cool on some occasions due to work pressure. “Since I will have no work from tomorrow, we can sit and have a chat,” he told reporters in a lighter vein.

The veteran leader quit a day after his visit to New Delhi, where he is believed to have met Gandhi and submitted his resignation letter.

After the death of Rajasekhara Reddy, the leadership had turned down the demand of his loyalists to make his son the chief minister and preferred veteran Rosaiah.

Jagan has since defied central leadership on several occasions to take out his ‘odarpu yatra’ to console family members of those who died of shock or committed suicide following his father’s death.

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