Nallari Kiran Kumar Reddy

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Kiran Reddy: From being a hand-picked man to a rebel

PTI | Feb 19, 2014

HYDERABAD: From being the hand-picked choice of Sonia Gandhi as Andhra Pradesh chief minister to sitting on a dharna in Delhi against division of the state, Nallari Kiran Kumar Reddy has turned from a Cogress regional leader to a disgruntled rebel in his nearly 39-month tumultuous tenure.

He became the first Cogress chief minister in the history of the grand old party to stage a sit-in in the heart of the national capital against the high command decision to carve out Telangana, embarrassing it in no small measure.

53-year-old Reddy might have earned the wrath of the Cogress leadership for his strident stand against division of AP, but he has now positioned himself as a champion of 'Samaikyandhra cause' seeking to upstage the likes of charismatic and resourceful Y S Jaganmohan Reddy, who is also fighting for the same political space.

He was anointed as chief minister on November 25, 2010 after septuagenarian K Rosaiah, who held the fort for Cogress for over an year following the death of towering Y S Rajasekhara Reddy in a chopper crash in September, 2009, resigned.

The selection of Reddy for the post of chief minister was surprising even to Cogress insiders in 2010 as he had never been a minister and not known to be a mass leader.

Political analysts had predicted that the cricketer-turned-politician would not remain in office for more than a few months given the fluid political situation in Andhra Pradesh on account of the raging separate Telangana agitation and the Jagan factor.

Reddy's government had faced a serious threat to its stability with Jaganmohan Reddy, the aggressive and charismatic son of late Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, once declaring famously in Delhi that the Cogress government in Andhra Pradesh was at his mercy.

The government, however, survived the no-trust motion on the floor of the House due to the merger of actor-turned- politician Chiranjeevi's Praja Rajyam with Cogress and Jagan being jailed in an alleged corruption case.

The separate statehood stir, spearheaded by TRS president K Chandrasekhar Rao, reached a new high during the tenure of Reddy and the government often came under tremendous pressure with ruling Cogress legislators and ministers from the region joining the popular agitation.

The detention of some party MPs by the police for participating in the pro-Telangana agitation did not go down well with them, who accused Reddy of being high-handed and vindictive.

The 16th chief minister of the state stood the ground, held on his own and virtually emerged unscathed as the parties and outfits supporting the separate statehood demand organised massive protests like 'Million March', 'sakala janula samme' (strike by all sections of people) for 42 days, 'Telangana March' and Telangana ministers, MPs, MLAs, MLCs from the region resigning en masse.

Despite dealing in a surcharged atmosphere, Reddy went on to acquire the image of being a tough administrator by refusing to budge from his position though pressure mounted on him over emotional grounds.

From a political perspective, Reddy was targeted by the YSR Cogress president for allegedly "diluting" the numerous welfare schemes launched by late Y S Rajasekhara Reddy such as tuition fees reimbursement, Rajiv Arogya Sri health insurance scheme and social security pension.

Reddy, however, introduced several new schemes including Mee Seva citizen services, Bangaru Thali for girl child and Amma Hastham as he sought to expand his base among the masses.

During his tenure, the Cogress suffered reverses in bypolls held in Telangana and Seemandhra regions at the height of the separate state agitation and following the death of Rajasekhara Reddy, but shrugged off despondency showing impressive results in the elections to cooperative bodies and local bodies last year.

Reddy, who had been a loyal Cogressman, turned a rebel, albeit with a cause, by voicing opposition to the Cogress Working Committee's decision in favour of separate Telangana on July 30, 2013.

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