Some AICC leaders feel disciplinary action, including replacement, should be taken against Chief Minister

The Congress party’s central leadership is incensed over the dharna staged by Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy at Jantar Mantar on Wednesday as it has placed the party in an embarrassing position.

Congress leaders feel that if such defiance is not nipped in the bud and allowed to go unchallenged, similar instances may be resorted to by other Chief Ministers.

According to highly placed party sources, some All India Congress Committee leaders at an informal meeting in Delhi expressed the view that some disciplinary action, including replacement of the Chief Minister, should be taken to send across a strong message that indiscipline would not be tolerated.

This gave rise to the talk that the high command could initiate action against Mr. Kiran Kumar Reddy once the Rajya Sabha elections are over on Friday.

Sources said the high command was dead set against the Chief Minister holding a silent protest at Jantar Mantar to oppose bifurcation and even asked some Seemandhra Union Ministers to convince Mr. Reddy not to go ahead with the sit-in protest.

It is understood that Mr. Reddy ignored the advice and went ahead with his agitation.

But replacing Mr. Reddy, party leaders say, is easier said than done, at this highly critical juncture when the Congress is in disarray and is divided comprehensively.

First of all, the Congress Legislature Party meeting has to be convened to elect a new leader and it would not be an easy task to find a successor to Mr. Reddy given the vertical split among the Congress MLAs on regional lines.

Could step down

Sources in the Chief Minister’s camp pointed out that Mr. Reddy had devised his own strategy if President Pranab Mukherjee refers the Bill to Parliament.

Having bowled his final over in the form of the dharna, Mr. Kiran Kumar Reddy could step down as Chief Minister having done all he could to prevent bifurcation.