With pressure from the Congress high command increasing for the formation of Telangana state, Andhra Pradesh chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy, not willing to give in, has began grouping his supporters from 10 Seemandhra districts to form a new party.
The move came after the party central leadership suspended six Congress MPs from the state who moved a no confidence motion against the UPA to stall the Telangana Bill from being tabled in parliament.
The increasing gap between the central leadership and the chief minister was again seen on Friday, when Reddy stayed away from a crucial meeting with Sonia Gandhi and the party’s core group to finalise candidates for the Rajya Sabha elections.
Earlier, Reddy skipped the All India Congress Committee session last week and also didn’t attend the press conference addressed by Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi along with the chief ministers of Congress-ruled states.
Reddy has been campaigning for Samaikyandhra (united state). “I believe that standing for the people is the right thing, not blindly supporting the party high command’s decision,” Reddy had emphasized before the start of the Andhra assembly session which was slated to discuss the AP reorganization Bill. The bill was sent to state assembly by the Centre on December 12 with a 43 days deadline to discuss it.
The bill will be debated in the assembly till January 30 and could be moved in Parliament in February. However, it does not need approval of vote by the state legislature — a debate is enough.
The CM says he has been opposing bifurcation at all forums. “All I have said is that I was opposed to bifurcation. I will follow the peoples mandate, though I would abide by party decision,” Kiran says.
In a precursor to the split in the Congress, hoardings have come up in Vijayawada hinting at launch of the new party, provisionally named ‘ Samaikyandhra Party’. The party’s flag has map of united Andhra Pradesh in green and saffron colours. The party is seeking cricket bat as its election symbol. The party could be launched at Tirupati or Vijayawada after the Telangana bill is sent back to Delhi.
However, political analysts in Delhi see a clearly laid-out plan behind this move. According to them, the Congress — which is on the back foot — is giving a long rope to the CM to raise hackles against Telangana decision to net support from the rest of Andhra Pradesh for his proposed regional party against the TDP and Jagan Mohan Reddy’s YSR Congress. “Once Kiran Kumar Reddy succeeds in getting the maximum number of seats in the Lok Sabha, the Congress expects him to either support them in the post-poll scenario or merge his party with the parent party later,” they said.
Vijayawada MP Lagadapati Rajagopal, who is said to be a main supporter of the Andhra CM, says, “We will defeat the designs of Jagan and support the Congress after winning more seats in parliament.”
State law minister Erasu Pratap Reddy says, “Our effort is to show Delhi how wrong is their decision of bifurcation.”