A day after Centre cleared the Cabinet note on division, Seemandhra Congress leaders on Friday have vowed to take their fight to the floor of the Assembly by opposing the draft Bill or the resolution as and when they come up for debate.

In a change of strategy, the leaders agreed to drop the earlier plan of tendering their resignations after discussions lasting for over three hours at the Camp office of Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy. As many as 18 Ministers and over three dozen legislators attended the meeting which was marked by more light than heat, unlike the heated discussions witnessed on Thursday.

The leaders reportedly decided to explore legal options to oppose bifurcation and entrusted the task to a group of Ministers and legislators. Tourism Minister Vatti Vasant Kumar quoting Article 3 of the Constitution said the draft Bill has to come to the State legislature at any cost. If that does not happen, it can be challenged, he said.

The Chief Minister dissuaded Ministers and MLAs from taking any extreme decision like resignation on the ground that it would deprive them of an opportunity to oppose the draft Bill in the Assembly. Mr. Reddy himself was mellowed today after his sharp and unambiguous criticism of the Congress high command earlier this week.

Against speculation that the Seemandhra leaders were divided in favour of and against the high command’s decision, today’s meeting was a tame affair. “It went off without any argument and all the members expressed anguish at the high command’s decision. They felt that they had been taken for a ride by the AICC leaders”, a senior MLA, told The Hindu.

Leaders pointed out that there was general perception among the public that Congress had forged a secret electoral understanding with the YSRC. “At least three leaders said that such underhand arrangements would deal a severe blow to the party in the elections. Already, people are seething with anger at Congress for dividing the State,” a former Minister said.