Shrewd Rosaiah is no political pushover


Rosaiah never displayed any ambitions, but when chief ministership came his way he took to the task urgently and has so far been able to hold on despite a clamour for elevating Y S Rajasekhara Reddy’s son Jagan Mohan as the chief minister. Unlike the mercurial YSR, Rosaiah’s rise has been slow, steady and sure.

Born in a middle class agricultural family in Vemuru, Guntur district, Rosaiah belongs to the Vysya community. As a student leader, he was elected general secretary of Hindu College, Guntur, in 1952. Rosaiah was a political disciple of Swatantra Party leader and freedom fighter Prof N G Ranga and regularly attended the political classes conducted in Ramaneedu Raitanga Vidyalayam in Guntur’s Nidubrolu village. He was elected MLC in 1968, 1974 and 1980. He was minister under various chief ministers like M Chenna Reddy (twice), T Anjaiah, K Vijaya Bhasker Reddy (twice), N Janardhan Reddy and YSR (twice), holding diverse portfolios like home, higher education, medical and health, transport, power, handloom and textiles, planning and legislative affairs, housing, commercial taxes, roads and buildings and finance.

Clean politician

A ‘clean’ politician, Rosaiah bided his time, rather than hanker for posts. Faced with challenge from within the state Cabinet after he was sworn in chief minister, Rosaiah hit back with wit and sarcasm, saying that even if the appointment was ‘temporary’ one should not pull a rug over oneself and sleep. He seized the moment and the confidence that the Congress high command reposed in him to take charge not only of politics within his party but also of the state.

His background in finance came to his rescue at a time when the state was reeling under the adverse impact of the economic downturn, drought, severe floods and depleting revenue that affected public expenditure. Since taking over the mantle of governance, Rosaiah has been adroit and has shown a degree of administrative acumen and political shrewdness.

His swift action against an official for the failure to arrange for a helicopter for use when the state was faced with the calamitious floods, replacing the DGP and the principle secretary (mines), sent a clear message that he will not tolerate negligence or apathy. He has now set about streamlining his administration by appointing bureaucrats with a clean record in the chief minister’s office.

Rosaiah is no political pushover. The history of the Congress in Andhra Pradesh is replete with instances of dissidence and backlash within the party when chief ministers tried to effect major changes.

It is, perhaps, too early to judge whether Rosaiah would be able to stave off dissidence if it rears its head in Congress politics. But he is wily and crafty in his own way and does have ‘friends’ in the high command, which is an imperative if one has to survive in rough and tumble of Congress politics. That in itself is no mean achievement considering the groundswell of support for YSR’s son Jagan Mohan. What he lacked in terms of manoeuverings, Rosaiah has been able to do with deft administrative handling. A case in point is the manner in which he marshalled his resources — bureaucratic, financial and political — to tide over the problems caused by the recent floods. For one, it brought the entire Congress leadership together. The MLAs and ministers have already said they will obey whatever decision the high command took on the issue of leadership.

Not one to abandon duty, Rosaiah missed his grandson’s bethrotal ceremony as he was surveying the flood-affected areas. People mattered to him and it is this quality that has endeared him to many who have described him as a compassionate and principled politician.

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