At a time the Congress party divided in Andhra Pradesh with leaders from Telangana and the rest of the state now known as Seemandhra are having parallel consultations and campaigns on the issue of bifurcation of state, a further division among them seen with a group of ministers and leaders from Seemandhra region started parallel strategies.
With Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy raising a banner of revolt against the Congress high command by brazenly opposing its decision to divide the state of Andhra Pradesh to carve out separate Telangana state, he has suddenly turned a big hero in the Seemandhra region. He has now become a rallying point for the other Seemandhra Congress leaders like Lagadapati Rajagopal, Kondru Murali, S Sailajanath, Vundavalli Arun Kumar, Ganta Srinivas Rao and others who have been worried about their future in the event of formation of Telangana. They are now planning to come out of the Congress to launch a separate political outfit to be led by Kiran himself to fight for United Andhra Pradesh.
However, a group of leaders led by Pradesh Congress President Botsa Satyanarayana and Finance Minsiter Anam Ramanarayana Reddy have not taken kindly the Chief Minister’s belligerent posture. In a bid to project themselves as alternate leaders in the event of bifurcation of the state, a group of ministers started having parallel meetings and course of action. They even openly find fault with Chief Minister’s public dissent against party high command’s decision.
Other leaders in this group include T G Venkatesh, D Manikya Varaprasad and Lok Sabha member G V Harsha Kumar, who are fretting and fuming at Kiran Kumar Reddy for defying the high command and damaging the party in the region. This group is keen on saving their political future if the division becomes inevitable, while continuing to bring pressure on the high command by taking up the slogan “Save Andhra Pradesh… Save Congress.”
As many as nine ministers from Seemandhra region including Anam Ramanarayan Reddy, Botcha Satyanarayana, Dokka Manikya Varaprasad, C Ramachandraiah, Vatti Vasantakumar, M Maheedhar Reddy, N Raghuveera Reddy and P Balaraju as well as Union tourism for minister Chiranjeevi met at the residence of Anam Ramanarayana Reddy and discussed the political situation in the state. They have decided to depute Botcha Satyanarayana to New Delhi to plead with the high command to send an official committee consisting of ministers to the state to study the ground realities and address the apprehensions of the Seemandhra people as well of those from Telangana region.
They also decided to approach the high command with the slogan, ‘Save Andhra Pradesh, Save Congress’. It also appealed to the APNGOs to call off their agitation. The ministers feel that while they should try to convince the high command to address the issues that had arisen in the Seemandhra region after the decision of the Congress Working Committee to bifurcate the state, they should also ensure that the party leaders did not target the high command for the decision to divide the state.
They expressed anguish that while opposition parties were attacking the Congress party, Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy too has been making strong remarks against the high command by saying that CWC resolution was not rock addict. It is learnt that the Congress high command has taken serious note of the open defiance of the Chief Minister and the statements he had made at his recent press conferences. Hence it is decided to set the house in order. The series of meetings that took place since Monday are said to be part of that exercise.
The interesting part of the meeting was that the Seemandhra ministers supported the decision of the Congress Working Committee to divide the state and said that the people of that region were becoming restive and hence the center should intervene in the matter. The meeting authorized Botcha to meet the leaders of the high command and also asked Chiranjeevi to meet Sonia Gandhi and explain the situation in the state to her.
Immediately, Botsa Satyanarayana rushed to New Delhi and met AICC in-charge of state affairs Digvijay Singh. Singh assured him that the A K Antony Committee, in which he is also member, would soon visit the state. He, however, did not announce any dates for the proposed visit. On the other hand the cabinet note was also being postponed.
Meanwhile, Minister Manikya Varaprasad took pot shots at the Chief Minister, saying the latter was surrounded by sycophants. He alleged that Kiran was accustomed to “praises and sycophancy.” He said that the Chief Minister should abide by the decision of the high command, irrespective of his personal views on division of the state. Stating that he was surprised by the Chief Minister’s outbursts against the party leadership, Varaprasad recalled that he had supported the Chief Minister several times in the cabinet meetings though he was not in favor of certain decisions.
He said it was not proper on the part of the Chief Minister to publicly oppose party high command’s decision. “The Chief Minister had sent out DL Ravindra Reddy and P Shanker Rao from the cabinet thinking that they were not listening to him. The ‘Bhajan team’ is spoiling the image of an otherwise intelligent Chief Minister,” he said.
The Minister said that he was pained over Kiran’s open defiance of the high command. “It is not a good tradition”, he said adding that the Chief Minister was duty bound to support the decisions of the party as a loyal soldier. He reminded that Kiran’s father was an ardent Congress man. Varaprasad said that he would disclose next week the reasons behind the Chief Minister withdrawing his plan to float a new party.