I’m OK but you’re not OK. Had Thomas A Harris been alive today, he would have categorised Kiran Kumar Reddy in this bracket.
“CM saar is very secretive,” says an aide of the Chief Minister. “He does not trust even his personal secretaries. He sits before his computer and works. No one knows what he is doing and with whom he is communicating.”
The Chief Minister’s critics in the Congress say this is a sign of insecurity. “The Chief Minister, who appears very confident that he will last till the 2014 general elections, has sent a delegation of 26 Telangana MLAs to Delhi to supplicate to the high command for his retention. That alone shows how insecure he is,” said one Congress leader.
His game plan is to blunt intra-party rivals’ efforts to unseat him. The delegation was reportedly given the brief that it should explain how efficient the Chief Minister is and question the proposal to bring in a new Chief Minister without first resolving the Telangana issue. For the record, the team says it went to Delhi only to plead for a Telangana state. “We had no other agenda. The speculation of a change of guard is baseless,” said K Lakshma Reddy who led the team.
The Chief Minister, who suspects that the high command is not very happy with him for losing several by-elections and for being unable to keep Congress MLAs from migrating to the YSR Congress, fears that his rivals may win the attention of the party leadership.
Among these rivals, former PCC president D Srinivas and National Disaster Management Authority vice-chairman M Shashidhar Reddy are giving him sleepless nights. Then there is a threat from Delhi in the form of Union minister S Jaipal Reddy who might be sent to Hyderabad to replace him if the party leadership thinks that by doing so it could silence the criticism that the latter was shunted out of the Petroleum Ministry at the behest of Mukesh Ambani.
These three leaders have the potential of dislodging him from power. For instance, Srinivas, a BC leader from Telangana, is a senior hand who is capable of taking everyone in the party along, which is a trait that is singularly missing in Kiran Reddy.
He has been biding his time for an opportunity and keeps his relations with Delhi bosses warm by undertaking travels to Delhi at least once a month, apart from making efforts to rally MLAs behind him.
Shashidhar Reddy has a connection with 10 Janpath. Last Monday, Sonia Gandhi gave him an audience of more than half an hour, fuelling speculation that he could be in her good books.
Kiran Reddy’s supporters believe that without resolving Telangana, the high command may not go in for a change of guard since it would serve no purpose. Though PCC president Botcha Satyanarayana no longer seems to harbour hopes of becoming Chief Minister, he is still engaged in a subtle campaign to hurt Kiran Reddy’s prospects of staying in the job. “That is because Kiran, instead of befriending Botcha after becoming Chief Minister, felt that he was a threat. That only made Botcha a permanent enemy,” one leader said.
A few days ago, lending credence to talk that Kiran Kumar would be replaced, Botcha did not scotch the speculation, but in characteristic style of parsed communication, said that since “neither of us have been elected by the people (president of PCC and the chief minister), one should always be prepared to step down when asked. The high command’s decision will be final and binding.”
There are others to watch out for. Kiran’s deputy Damodara Rajanarasimha gnashes his teeth at him in private talk because he was not given the Home portfolio. Then there is Panchayat Raj minister K Jana Reddy who makes it a point to say that Kiran Kumar is only one among equals.
A minister who is a long-time friend of Kiran Kumar is understood to be seething with rage for not being given an audience even though he went to the latter’s office on invitation.
According to sources, the reason why Kiran Kumar is feeling insecure more than ever before is because of his failure in the by-elections in March and July this year. The party is said to be angry with the Chief Minister for bragging that victory for the Congress is certain if Jagan Mohan Reddy was sent to jail and his Sakshi channel shut down. Jagan was duly arrested but the Congress was routed anyway.
What is making Kiran Kumar uncomfortable is that he is not able to keep Congress MLAs together. So far, 21 Congress MLAs have crossed over to the Jagan camp.
This apart, the TRS has spirited away two Congress legislators. Says Rajya Sabha member V Hanumatha Rao: “These MLAs, after getting works done by the Chief Minister are moving to the YSR Congress camp. That shows how much respect they have for him.”
Health Minister Ravindra Reddy says Kiran Reddy cannot inspire people in his own Chittoor district, leave alone other parts of the state.
- Sunday Standard