Plan to announce ‘T’ before CM’s rebellion snowballed into a total revolt successful
The timing of the crucial announcement by the Central Cabinet on bifurcating Andhra Pradesh was evidently part of a well-laid out Congress strategy to contain political damage from within and isolating the recalcitrant Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy.
Mr. Reddy was the target of attack by nine of his Cabinet colleagues on Tuesday and again by a junior Minister on Wednesday in what was clearly seen as an orchestrated attempt by the AICC to bring Mr Kiran Reddy under check before his rebellion snowballed into a total revolt against the high command.
October 3, it must be said in all fairness to the party, was the day on which the note on Telangana was expected to come up before the Cabinet after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s return from his US sojourn.
The controversy kicked up by AICC vice-president Rahul Gandhi over scrapping the ordinance on convicted legislators only sidetracked the issue for a while.
The indisposition of Defence Minister A.K. Antony, who heads the committee to address the concerns of Seemandhra people, also gave an impression that tabling of the Cabinet note may be postponed.
But AICC general secretary Digvijay Singh lent a twist by pointing that the Antony Committee was not meant to reconsider the CWC’s decision on Telangana. By taking the Congress high command head-on, Mr. Kiran Reddy has put his job on stake.
His press conference three days ago about the adverse effects of bifurcation on both Telangana and Seemandhra only added fuel to the fire. Even before he could fire more salvos at the Centre, his own Cabinet Ministers from Seemandhra were made by the Congress high command to turn against him.
Mr. Kiran Reddy, who has completed two-and-a-half years in office, was clearly unfazed by attempts to undermine him.
He told a large group of Congress leaders here on Thursday that he would not go to Delhi hereafter. An already incensed Central leadership has reportedly begun attempts to find a replacement for him, though the possibility of imposition of President’s Rule is not ruled out. Finance Minister Anam Ramnarayan Reddy, who led the charge against the Chief Minister, is the frontrunner in the race as he belongs to the Reddy community, which, the high command hopes, can swing votes in the party’s favour. If the party chooses a Kapu leader, it can have vast options as Union Minister K. Chiranjeevi and PCC president Botcha Satyanarayana are among those belonging to the community.
The Congress high command has apparently done its homework, judging by the limited damage from within and the dwindling of Chief Minister’s supporters in the Cabinet from 21 to about seven. Whether the internal Congress battle spills over to the Assembly remains to be seen as the Centre may steamroller its decision and not seek the Assembly’s views at all.
What the Congress must now factor into its strategies is how it can prevent its MPs and MLAs from Seemandhra from defecting to the YSR Congress and the Telugu Desam.