By Uma Sudhir
After the Union cabinet finally approved the AP Reorganisation Bill on forming India’s 29th state of Telangana, it is expected to go to the President and then to Parliament.
Political analysts have criticised the Congress for poor party management, so much so that it allowed its own chief minister to do an Arvind Kejriwal, sitting on dharna, right in the capital city, cocking a snook at the party leadership. While that show of defiance and standing up against the Congress leadership, as also repeated obstruction by its own party MPs in Parliament, are seen to have reflected poorly on the image of the party.
So will the party leadership act against Kiran Kumar Reddy at this stage? At least to silence the sarcastic jibes from the BJP, who have told the Congress to first put its own house in order? Does disciplinary action against Kiran Kumar Reddy help the Congress in any way, when the damage that he can do, is already done? Why would a party thats fire-fighting on many fronts, want to open yet another front?
Sources close to the chief minister have said Kiran Kumar Reddy may not step down at least till the Bill is presented in Parliament. Of course, he has already publicly declared that he will not oversee bifurcation of the state, sitting in the chief minister’s chair. So if the Bill goes through, as planned by the UPA, his days would anyways be numbered.
If the UPA decides to suspend or remove him, they cannot elevate the deputy chief minister Damodar Rajanarasimha, who is from Telangana, as that would not go down well with the Seemandhra leaders. So one of the choices could be PCC chief Botsa Satyanarayana, who is seen as acceptable to Telangana too.
Either ways, the more the chief minister is seen as a rebel and distanced from the Congress, the better it is for the party politically. Kiran Kumar Reddy may or may not launch his own political party. He may or may not get hordes of Seemandhra congress leaders joining him. But a new party would give disheartened Seemandhra leaders a new identity and poll symbol with which to go to the people, at a time when the Congress is far from popular among the people of Seemandhra. So while being away from the Congress, Kiran would help the party keep real political opponents, Chandrababu Naidu and Jaganmohan Reddy in check in Seemandhra.
In Telangana, Sonia Gandhi will be tom-tomed as the leader who gave Telangana (if the Bill goes through) or at least tried her very best to (if the Bill doesn’t go through, the BJP can be painted the villain). So the Congress can most certainly hope to make electoral gains, as many analysts and surveys have suggested.
Incidentally, the Congress leadership had remembered that they had made a promise to give a separate state of Telangana, at a time when they had already lost their popular leader Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, his son had emerged as a big challenge to the party and the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (which won only 10 assembly and two Lok Sabha seats in 2009) had re-emerged as a political force. The promise of Telangana had served the purpose of putting a check on Jaganmohan Reddy, who is now virtually restricted to the Seemandhra region. The Telugu Desam, with cadre in both regions, was put in a quandary. Besides, the Congress has become the big brother in the relationship with the TRS in Telangana. So, isn’t the Telangana `mess’ actually a win-win for the Congress?
Kiran Kumar Reddy has actually been a very reluctant rebel. Every time he questions the decision to bifurcate Andhra pradesh, in the same breath,he never fails to reiterate that he always wants to be a loyal congressman. So at an opportune time in the future, the window is always open for the ‘rebel loyalist’ to return home.