By T S Sudhir
Konijeti Rosaiah, Andhra Pradesh’s 77-year-old chief minister, is one of those disciplined Gandhians, who must be mighty irked that his report card is getting spoilt in the sunset of his career. A man known for being punctual, his one year in the top job has been marked by too many days of medical leave, forcing him to postpone or cancel many important meetings and engagements.
The most unkind viral attack hit Rosaiah ironically in the week he completed a year in office, forcing him to miss three important events. A visit to Tirupati when the PM came visiting, to Delhi for Sonia Gandhi’s election as Congress president and to Kurnool district for YSR’s first death anniversary.
Rosaiah has never made any bones about the fact that his age does not allow him to work like his predecessors. Y S Rajasekhara Reddy used to travel to districts very often and the self-styled workaholic Chandrababu Naidu never tired of boasting that his system was up and running everyday for 18 hours.
Rosaiah in contrast, had done a PV in his political career when 2nd September 2009 happened. Just like the Telugu bidda who was catapulted to the PM’s post in 1991 even after seeking a retirement from active politics, Rosaiah too had opted out of contesting the assembly elections last year, instead becoming an MLC. But in post-YSR Andhra Pradesh, the number 2 to five chief ministers seemed the best bet to be made number 1.
But captaincy has proved to be a baptism by fire. Or shall we say an inferno. The rebellion by Jagan and his supporters that shows no signs of losing its fizz, the worst floods in Andhra Pradesh’s history last October, the violent Telangana agitation have tested Rosaiah no end. Not what the doctor ordered for this diabetic chief minister, who has also undergone a bypass heart surgery.
Rosaiah for many years was the voice of the Andhra Pradesh Congress, by virtue of being its spokesperson. Every afternoon, sharp at 12:30, he would deflate the utterances of the Telugu Desam, with his sharp tongue. Ironically, now when he is also the face of the Andhra Pradesh Congress, everyone in his own party and outside, refers to him as a temporary CM.
Rosaiah also hasn’t helped his cause by making the phrase `High command will take a decision’ every second sentence in his discourse. Now his ill-health, which has forced him to cancel most of his engagements this week as well and take rest at home, has once again made the political air in Hyderabad pregnant with the possibility that Rosaiah may retire hurt. Or he could be asked to given a runner in Geeta Reddy.
The Telugu Desam taunts saying there is no government in place in Andhra Pradesh. Which in fact, is not true.
Those in the know say Governor E S L Narasimhan is now a dynamic player in many of the decisions taken by the government. Officials keep him informed of the developments. Having been a part of the Andhra Pradesh IPS cadre, he knows the state as well as any local politician does. By virtue of being the Chancellor, he has been taking a keen interest in the running of the universities and the measures he has introduced will hopefully ensure they do not once again turn into pockets of agitational politics over Telangana. Having a direct line to both the PMO and the Home ministry helps.
The next few months are extremely critical for Andhra Pradesh, politically. The Congress has to put its house in order before December 31, when the Srikrishna committee on bifurcation of the state gives its report. Only a set of two good batsmen at the crease can ensure the Telangana or Seemandhra beamers, as may be the case, do not leave the party with a bloody nose. And Rosaiah has to improve his fitness and batting technique, if he has to show he is the skipper, not a nightwatchman.
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