Kiran Kumar Reddy, as the Chief Minister, has been a puzzle of sorts. His becoming a Chief Minister itself was a big surprise. People who know him wonder, how did he convince the ‘high command’. Many did not know about his existence, before he became the Chief Minister. The most visible position of his being the Speaker of the Assembly, not many knew him. A loner at best, he is not known to inspire and motivate any following. Visitors came away unimpressed. They were neither impressed by his acumen, his knowledge, nor his demeanour. He is not a haughty person, but also does not have a ‘warm’ personality. He would not know how to respect, how to shower affection to the elderly and young. Does he suffer from inferiority complex? Probably yes, but one is not sure. Commoners who met him to solve their critical problems did not find him helpful.
Pundits have observed that he did not have administrative experience, in running a government. He was never a Minister. He did not even steer the Congress party. He was confined to his constituency. Locals in constituency mention that he is not known to be an endearing MLA. His standing all along was that he is the son of an erstwhile big personality. In the political geography of Rayalaseema, where families dominate certain constituencies, he belongs to one of those. But, his kind of personality, how did he manage to be a MLA for so long. Is it a comment on the Rayalaseema political culture, or on his abilities? Observing his performance as a Chief Minister, one would not bet on his abilities. In the beginning most thought, he does not know how to clear files, and at the fag end of his tenure as CM, everyone was aghast at the speed with which the files were moving. Even a daring personality such YSR did not dare so much.
It is another discussion, why Rayalaseema political spectrum does not enable political competition, even against such personalities, leave alone stronger dictators.
For me, looking at the past three Chief Ministers, all of whom belong to Rayalaseema, except for brief period held by Rosaiah, he comes as a distant cross between Chandrababu Naidu and Y. S. Rajashekhara Reddy. He believed in very few people. He has some traits of adamancy, and he has cunningness to cover up his weaknesses. The usual coterie that surrounded him, as a power centre, did not know how to deal with him. He did display childish behaviour even as a Chief Minister, a behaviour not defined by innocence, but of foolishness. Raising hands, while boarding the bus, in Andhra Bhavan, before going for dharna at jantar mantar being on such instance. After every such act, he displays that expression of ‘cocking a snook’, which infuriates a onlooker. He most probably relishes ridicule more than praise.
Probably stemming out such foolishness, he chose to portray himself as a champion of United Andhra. Without a follower before he became a Chief Minister, one wondered why he chose to defy the high command. This is the same high command, which enabled him to become Chief Minister. Otherwise, he would be generations away from being a Chief Minister. People did not believe him. So much so, they thought he was playing a game, or a drama, at the behest of the high command. Such a comment, to me, means even his passion is not believable. Is it a problem of expression, communication or language? In Congress, where cut throat competition exists, how did he manage without such basic political skills? Ofcourse, he is not alone in lacking such skills. There are other politicians, who equally lack such skills.
Post bifurcation approval by the Parliament, he went back to becoming a loner again, abandoned by cronies – pretty fast, going by the media reports. Albeit, the only change before and after being the CM seems to be the raise in his fortunes, thanks to family support. When one spans the AP political scenario, where personalities such as Chandrababu Naidu, Kalvakuntla Chandreshekhar Rao and Jaganmohan Reddy are struggling, one would wonder whether Kirankumar Reddy would be able to match them as the head of a political party. If Congress did not want to take action against him, knowing his weight, or lack of it, which politician worth his salt would add weight to his efforts? When people can’t believe his passion, with best of the communication resources at his disposal, it would be interesting to see how he would make others believe in him amidst a political war, nearer to the elections. However, I would not write a epitaph on his political career, if he survives a ‘vigilance’ assault under the Governor’s rule. He is probably destined for some darker days. If he has an iota of political shrewdness, he would lie low, and would not fritter away the only resources he accumulated to negotiate for better times.