HYDERABAD: The man who had planned to call it quits a few months ago has now plunged into active state politics head-on. After having extracted assurances from fellow Telangana Congress leaders that they would not come in his way, Union urban development minister Sudini Jaipal Reddy has embarked on a major offensive to realize his political ambition: Becoming the first chief minister of Telangana state.
Thus, the political leader who till now has never publicly projected himself as a die-hard supporter of Telangana, has become one. The national-level politician, who never took part in party meetings at the district-levels is now the key speaker in every one of them and the leader who would never take part in informal meetings at residence of local netas is now a regular in all of them.
The last few weeks has seen the transformation of Jaipal from a reclusive national Congress leader to becoming a leader of the masses espousing the Telangana cause. According to sources, Jaipal decided to take the plunge after the July 30 Telangana announcement by the Congress Working Committee because he now believes that bifurcation is a certainty.
Old-timers recall that the last time Jaipal donned such an active role in grass-root politics was when he was in the Janata Dal (Secular) before joining the Congress in 1999. Once the decision to play an active role in Telangana politics was made, it was time to forge a consensus.
According to the sources, Jaipal consulted Telangana Congress leaders including his loyalists D Srinivas and K Jana Reddy, and is
banking on them to back his candidature by not putting themselves in the reckoning for the CM post. “In the delicate caste-ridden politics in Telangana, even leaders like deputy chief minister C Damodar Rajanarasimha and minister Ponnala Lakshmaiah may not come in the way as long as they are sure that it is not their rivals who would end up as the chief minister. Thus, Jaipal is proceeding on the assumption that he will not face a contest from within for the post of T chief minister,” the sources said.
Once the decision was made, making further moves did not take much time. Jaipal has led the charge of the Telangana ministers in the public meetings held by the party as a ‘thanksgiving’ gesture to Congress president Sonia Gandhi for granting Telangana.
The Union minister has been in the forefront in the four meetings held so far in Bodhan, Gadwal, Warangal and Nirmal towns. Jaipal has also made it a point to attend the smaller private meetings that have been held in the last few weeks at the residences of Jana Reddy and other Telangana leaders.
But the chances of Jaipal becoming Telangana CM would also depend on whom the Congress
appoints as the Seemandhra chief minister once the division takes place. “In case the Congress appoints a member of the Reddy community as Seemandhra CM, Jaipal’s chances of heading the government in Telangana will become slim. Hence, it is in the interests of the Union minister to root for either Botsa Satyanarayana or Kanna Lakshminarayana to become the CM of that region,” said the sources.
For the time being though, the focus is on Telangana. The state Congress has held meetings in four Telangana districts and more are likely in the next few weeks. And Jaipal is certain to be at the forefront of all of them.
“Considering how he lost the CM’s race to N Kiran Kumar Reddy in 2010, this is his best and only chance of heading the first government in Telangana. Obviously, he will put in his best efforts to succeed,” said a Jaipal loyalist. Repeated attempts to contact the Union minister were unsuccessful.