All-India Congress Committee secretary R.C. Khuntia said former Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy and other party MPs knew about the party leadership’s decision to divide the State.

“After the decision was taken, it was wrong on their part to oppose it. Their action to oppose the bifurcation was clearly driven by political interest,” Mr. Khuntia, who was in Hyderabad, told The Hindu on Wednesday.

In an interview, he spoke about the selection of candidates, party’s efforts to highlight the special package for Andhra Pradesh and how the party had taken a beating in Seemandhra after the State division. Talking about the bifurcation, Mr. Khuntia wondered as to why the former Chief Minister and others raised a hue and cry when they had been told that division was inevitable. “The Congress was the last to take the decision. All other parties had given in writing supporting separate Telangana issue. In 2004 and 2009 election manifesto, we had included it. Our president Sonia Gandhi had announced support for Telangana at the election meeting in Karimnagar. The Then Union Home Minister, P. Chidambaram, had announced Telangana. It was not an overnight development,” he said. The AICC secretary said the party leadership stood by the decision despite knowing that it would prove counterproductive in Seemandhra region. “We stood by the commitment,” he said adding that the Congress was prepared to face the consequences. Nevertheless, he said the Centre’s decision to accord special status to Andhra Pradesh was a great concession. “Other States took 10-15 years to get such a concession. But A.P. has been accorded that status immediately,” he said pointing out that special package for Rayalaseema and north Coastal Andhra would be a boon for the seven districts.

Admitting that the party would have an uphill task in Seemandhra, Mr. Khuntia said the fortunes would not be very good and at the same time, not very bad also. Stating that defections of leaders to some extent had eroded the party support in the constituencies, he said the party would not have given tickets to the rebel MPs otherwise. “We will identify right candidates in these constituencies,” he pointed out.