Jaipal Reddy could soon be off to Hyderabad

Vol 16, PW 5 (20 Sep 12) People & Policy

Saturday, September 22 could be a life-changing day for Jaipal Reddy.

On this day Congress party bosses will discuss whether the 70-year old oil minister should stay in Delhi or move to Hyderabad as Congress chief minister to oversee the creation of Telengana - a new state carved out of Andhra Pradesh. All hinges on a critical meeting scheduled for the day before on (Friday) September 21 when Congress party leaders meet their ruling coalition allies to gauge support for the creation of India’s newest state in response to years of regional demand.

“If the allies support us,” says a Congress source, “Jaipal Reddy will be asked to go to Andhra Pradesh as chief minister to replace Kiran Kumar Reddy.” In Delhi the rumour mill has been working overtime since a meeting on September 17 chaired by Congress president Sonia Gandhi, which included her political secretary Ahmed Patel, finance minister Palaniappan Chidambaram and Congress general secretary Ghulam Nabi Azad.

In the meeting it was agreed that the Telengana impasse should be ‘resolved’ this month. “Reddy is the most senior politician in Andhra Pradesh,” adds our Congress source.

“He is politically sound and has good connections with Telengana leaders.” Reddy’s arrival in Andhra Pradesh will also be welcomed by the state’s beleaguered Congress party.

With his ‘clean’ image he is widely seen as the only man who can revitalise the state’s party apparatus ahead of national elections in 2014. What of the man himself Reddy has apparently told friends his elevation as chief minister would be a ‘promotion’ and that he would be happy to return to Andhra Pradesh – but only if a solution to separatist Telengana demands is in sight.