Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy is apparently under tremendous pressure from other Congress leaders, who can neither join the Telugu Desam nor the YSR Congress, to float his own party.
On Saturday, Reddy, who has been battling the crisis surrounding the creation of Telangana, had warned the Congress high command against the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh into Telangana and Seemandhra.
He had said, “If you want, make KCR (TRS chief K. Chandrasekhara Rao) the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh. Or make (YSRCP chief) Jaganmohan Reddy the CM of Andhra Pradesh. Or make Chandrababu Naidu the CM. But under no circumstances, bifurcate Andhra Pradesh. It is something we will just not accept.”
This brave salvo has led many to wonder if Reddy is playing to a plan: of inviting the Congress leadership’s wrath, get sacked, then position himself as a political martyr and float his own party. More than 50 Congress MPs and MLAs do not see eye to eye with Jaganmohan Reddy or a Chandrababu Naidu and therefore cannot join their parties. They are nudging Kiran Reddy to start a new innings with a new team. Social Welfare Minister P. Satyanarayana, considered very close to Reddy, says the CM has not made up his mind.
When asked what were Congress MLAs and MPs telling the chief minister, Satyanarayana replied, “That why don’t you come out as a separate party leader. Still he has not taken a decision. We have to wait for the high command whether they take a U-turn or initiate some dialogue.”
Informal surveys by those close to the CM have indicated that his defiance has made him popular among government employees in Seemandhra who went on strike for over 70 days after the decision on bifurcation. The belief, therefore, is that Kiran Reddy can be a force to reckon with in coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema.
But Kiran Reddy is still undecided because he and his family have always been in the Congress and that makes it difficult to snap the umbilical cord. Further, he fears that if he floats his party it will only eat into Jaganmohan’s voteshare thereby boosting TDP’s prospects.
There are many who see the Chief Minister’s hand in the decision of six Congress MPs moving a no-confidence motion against the UPA government, a move that will invite disqualification.
Political analyst K. Nageshwar says, “So when they are ready for disqualification and disciplinary action, it means many Congress leaders led by Kiran Kumar Reddy are planning to form a new party. Whether it makes an impact or not is a secondary question; they realise that inside the Congress, their political future is sealed.”
Telangana leaders, who have no love lost for Kiran Reddy, dismiss his party plans as a foolish idea. “Only fools think like that. If he wants to think like that, let him,” says TRS leader Kesava Rao.
In 2009, the Congress won 21 of the 25 Lok Sabha seats in the Seemandhra region of Andhra Pradesh. It is ironical that today the party has become so discredited that even its own chief minister does not think it is party time.