Congress leaders say 32 Ministers and MLAs likely to sail with him

The Congress party’s central leadership nurses a strong suspicion that Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy may launch a new party even though several Ministers and legislators are planning mass exodus to other parties.

Top AICC functionaries are keeping a tab on the developments in the Chief Minister’s camp in wake of intelligence reports that Mr. Reddy may launch a new political party with the slogan of united AP. These reports suggest that if and when the Chief Minister takes the plunge, as many as 32 Ministers and MLAs may sail with him.

Survey reports

Further, some survey reports have indicated that if Mr. Reddy contests the elections on the plank of united AP, his party may win over two dozen seats. Presently, the TDP and the YSR Congress are locked in a close fight for the 25 Lok Sabha and 175 Assembly seats in Seemandhra region. The Congress, its leaders fear, will come a poor third.

The Chief Minister is maintaining strategic silence and counselling his aides to wait till January 23 when the draft Bill will be returned to the President. His non-committal stand is making them restive. As the debate on whether he will take the plunge rages, Ministers, MPs and MLAs are getting in touch with the TDP, the YSR Congress and even the BJP.

Congress leaders say there will be clarity some time in January but added the time to get a party taking full shape and becoming battle ready is too short. Mr. Reddy’s followers are reportedly in touch with student’s union leaders and government employees unions to float a joint action committee for united AP. The idea is to rope these sections and wean away the disgruntled Congress cadre to create an impact in the elections.

Amid this talk, Minister for Medical Education Kondru Murali Mohan said it was unlikely for the Chief Minister to launch a new party. At a press conference here, he said that defections would not affect the party’s prospects as the second rung leaders, numbering 200 in each Assembly constituency, would stand by the party.