We were at a meeting on strategies to reduce stigma and discrimination in schools under the Right To Education. The minister for primary education had philosophically declared that he and the government could do nothing till societal attitudes changed. The professor-turned-politician was obliquely making the point that the Andhra Pradesh government is like the cat that closes its eyes when it drinks the milk. Deny the problem, do not officially concede that it exists, then there is no pressure to look for solutions.
In the last five months and more that Kiran Kumar Reddy has been at the helm of affairs, people are wondering if a government indeed exists in Hyderabad. The chief minister himself is invisible. He apparently detests the media so the state does not know what is on his mind. He cannot speak his mind to his cabinet colleagues because the powerful among them reportedly ask him to mind his own business at cabinet meetings. There is no one to advise the CM since all advisors, appointed by YSR and continued by K Rosaiah, have put in their papers. And Delhi has not advised him on who to now appoint as advisors.
Sources in the Chief Minister’s Office tell me 4600 files are pending since November. Files were put on a conveyor belt and cleared, some 210 of them, after a local newspaper pointed this out about a month ago. But most of them related to general and routine work and transfers. The chatter that Rosaiah at 78, was better than Kiran, atleast in clearing files and keeping the wheels of administration well-oiled, is already gaining volume.
“Take the example of this file that entered the CMO a week or two after Kiran took over,” my source elaborates. “It related to 28 more ailments and diseases to be covered under the Arogyasri medical insurance scheme. Obviously important from a welfare and common man point of view. The file has moved from the Health department to the General administration department to the CMO, where it is stuck for five months now.”
Kiran has, politically speaking, spent a cool summer. But he will find his seat hot in May and June. It is almost certain that bete noire Jaganmohan Reddy and his mother Vijayalakshmi will romp home with a comfortable majority and Kiran will have to do some explaining to do to the High command. Though to be fair to Kiran, much of the mess in Andhra Pradesh is the doing of Sonia Gandhi and her coterie of advisors who by their whimsical acts, have turned the state into an `Andhera Pradesh’ for the Congress, electorally speaking.
The second challenge will come from Telangana. The Congress is expected to put its cards on the table on the contentious issue by July and that is expected to lead to a chain of events that could well spiral out of control. Jagan’s act of defiance and the High command’s inability (or call it reluctance) to take action against rebel MLAs, has already exposed its weak spine.
The Congress has reason to be worried. Kiran was brought in as CM to ensure the powerful Reddy lobby stays with the party. A victory for Jagan will open up the community to seductive overtures from Kadapa. Plus the whispers in the corridors of power about a possible match-fixing between Jagan and the Telangana Rashtra Samiti, is enough to make the `hand’ shiver.
One thing is certain. And I am not giving away a State secret here. The complicated political jumble will mean power in 2014 won’t be within handshake distance for the Congress in Andhra Pradesh. It will need to look elsewhere to get the numbers.