Telangana will be acid test for Kiran Kumar Reddy

By Mohammed Shafeeq, IANS
Friday, November 26, 2010

HYDERABAD - A host of challenges await former cricketer and Andhra Pradesh’s new Chief Minister Nalluri Kiran Kumar Reddy as he begins a fresh innings in his political career.

Kiran Kumar may not have to wait long to face the challenges, the biggest of them being the Telangana issue.

The movement for separate statehood to Telangana is likely to intensify after the Srikrishna committee submits its report next month. Parties like Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) have already warned of a “bloodbath” if the central government fails to carve out a separate state.

The region, which includes Hyderabad, may again witness violent protests if the panel makes no clear recommendation for the formation of Telangana state.

A similar situation late last year and anti-Telangana protests in two other regions had badly hit business and industry in this IT hub and other towns.

Though born and schooled in Hyderabad, Kiran Kumar hails from Rayalaseema region. He is against the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh. His controversial role as the assembly Speaker in accepting the resignations of TRS legislators while rejecting that of ruling Congress had angered the Telangana groups.

The legislators from the region had resigned in February this year to protest the central government’s move to form the Srikrishna committee, which they perceived as a delaying tactic.

The appointment of Kiran Kumar is not being seen as a pro-Telangana move in the region. There is fear in a section of Telangana leaders that he may suppress the movement.

Sounding a warning to Telangana groups, the new chief minister has already declared that he would be firm in maintaining law and order.

Telangana groups have taken exception to Kiran Kumar’s claim that he is a “Hyderabadi” as he was born and studied here.

“He is not a Hyderabadi. He is from Rayalaseema and that is why he represents an assembly constituency in that region,” says M. Kodandaram, convenor of the Telangana Joint Action Committee.

Unlike his predecessor K. Rosaiah, who ruled for nearly 15 months with the same cabinet formed by Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, Kiran Kumar will face the first challenge while picking his team of ministers.

The 50-year-old, who neither has the charisma of YSR nor the vast political and administrative experience of Rosaiah, will have to do a great balancing act to ensure representations to all communities, regions and groups in the ministry.

Kiran Kumar, who had not even served as a minister, may face a daunting task in keeping all sections in good humour at a time when the party appears to be in total disarray.

Political analysts point out that when YSR was in power, he had an iron-like grip over the party. Now the party stands divided.

Rosaiah had failed to tackle the internal wrangling and the open defiance by Kadapa MP Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy and no dramatic change is expected with the change of leadership.

Though once considered close to YSR, Kiran Kumar will be under pressure to keep a check on the loyalists of his son.

At least two ministers, who defied the party to be with Jagan during his road shows, are likely to be dropped and this may further anger the Kadapa MP.

Kiran Kumar has taken over at a time when the state is witnessing more than a dozen agitations.

Students in Andhra and Rayalaseema regions continued their protest against the postponement of written examination for recruitment of sub-inspectors of police following objections raised by pro-Telangana groups, who want the government to first ensure jobs to locals in Hyderabad.

The lawyers in Andhra and Rayalaseema are also on warpath demanding a separate bench of high court for their regions. The government employees have threatened strike on their long-pending demands.

Political observers say having a deputy chief minister from Telangana may not help Kiran Kumar but to the contrary may lead to a tussle between the two.

Kiran Kumar’s deputy will be under pressure from Telangana supporters to speak out for the Telangana cause. Various student groups backing the Telangana demand have warned Congress leaders from the region against accepting the post of deputy chief minister.

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