| AICC general secretary Ghulam Nabi Azad (right) greets Rajasekhar Reddy in Hyderabad on Wednesday. (PTI)
Hyderabad, May 12: Yedunduri Sandinti Rajasekhar Reddy will end the Congress’ 10-year stint on the Opposition benches in Andhra Pradesh when he is sworn in chief minister on Friday afternoon.
Reddy, who started out in panchayati raj institutions in 1978 and was state Congress chief when the party lost the 1985 and 1989 elections, was today unanimously elected leader of the legislature party in the 12th Assembly.
The 55-year-old doctor-turned-politician was swiftly elected leader at a meeting of new Congress MLAs a day after the party swept to power in a landslide victory. His name was proposed by state Congress chief D. Srinivas and seconded by former minister and seniormost Congress MLA K. Ranga Rao.
The two-hour Congress legislature party meeting was supervised by party observers Ghulam Nabi Azad and Shivraj Patil. The meeting had earlier resolved unanimously to authorise Sonia Gandhi to choose its leader. The central observers later spoke to the Congress president, who endorsed Reddy’s candidature.
Reddy was the legislature party leader and leader of the Opposition in the dissolved Assembly and has represented Cuddapah four times in the Lok Sabha, from 1989 to 1999.
The chief minister-elect called on governor S.S. Barnala in the evening and handed him the Congress resolution electing him its leader. Earlier, state chief secretary Mohan Kanda and director-general of police S.R. Sukumara called on Reddy.
Legislature party spokesman K. Suresh Reddy said the chief minister would be sworn in at a public ceremony around 1 pm on Friday. “We are inviting the Congress president for the event in view of the epoch-making strides her leadership has brought the state to in the last few years,” he added.
Some Telengana MLAs said at the Congress meeting that the deputy chief minister or Speaker’s post should go to someone from that region — the party fought the elections in alliance with the Telengana Rashtra Samiti which is demanding that a separate Telengana state be carved out of Andhra. Azad and Patil told the MLAs their request would be considered.
Rayalaseema leader Reddy, best remembered for his trenchant attack on predecessor . Chandrababu Naidu in the Assembly over the Tehelka scam, said his government would be transparent and introduce only people-friendly measures.
“I will not blindly remove all measures of my predecessor but I will ensure that all his anti-common man policies will not find a place in the administration,” he said.
Rejecting suggestions that Naidu’s exit would dry up investment in the state, particularly by IT companies and multinationals, Reddy said: “I will make Andhra Pradesh… both investor friendly and employment-oriented. I will not make empty promises and use high-blitz publicity but will try my best to implement all the economic sops we promised during the poll campaign.”
The “Tiger of Cuddapah” will be the only person to be sworn in on Friday — a new government has to be in place by Saturday. The Assembly has to be convened by next fortnight because the 2004-05 budget has to be passed by month-end to avoid a financial crisis.
Addressing the first TRS legislature party meeting after being elected its leader, party chief K. Chandrasekhar Rao said the people had given a resounding mandate for a separate state. “It has reinforced our energy to further the objective of a separate Telengana and continue the movement,” said the leader who leaves for Delhi on Friday to meet the forum for smaller states led by Ajit Singh.
The Left parties, which fought the elections with the Congress, said they had no plans to participate in government.