Andhra Pradesh chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy on Wednesday resigned not only from the post but the Congress party as well.
Reddy had made up his mind sometime ago but delayed the decision, hoping that the move to bifurcate Andhra Pradesh would get stalled in Parliament. However, the passage of the Telangana bill in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday dashed all his hopes.
There are indications that he may launch his own political party or join an outfit floated by one of his supporters.
Some weeks ago, hoardings of a new political outfit, Samaikyandhra Party, had come up in Vijayawada much to the surprise of Congress leaders from all the three regions – coastal Andhra, Rayalaseema and Telangana.
The sources did not rule out it as a front for Reddy and his supporters. The party has sought cricket bat – Reddy was once a cricketer and had played for Hyderabad in the Ranji Trophy tournament -- as its election symbol and has the map of united Andhra Pradesh in green and saffron colours.
With his defiant stand on Telangana, especially after the Congress Working Committee (CWC) gave its nod to the bifurcation move on July 30 last year, Reddy has emerged as a champion of united Andhra Pradesh and his camp believes that the new party would give a tough fight to both the TDP and YSR Congress in Seemandhra.
Since Reddy's exit came at a time when the Lok Sabha and assembly elections are just few months away, it will not have much impact on the Congress prospects in the state. The party now has two options – to go for President's rule or appoint a new chief minister, preferably from Seemandhra, for the remaining period till the elections.
In case the Congress goes for the second option, the names of state cabinet ministers Kanna Lakshmi Narayana (agriculture), Ramanarayana Reddy (finance) and Raghuveera Reddy (revenue) are doing rounds as Reddy's possible successor. The move would placate the Seemandhra region and the new chief minister would be asked to preside over and complete the process of the state's bifurcation.
The Congress had given a long rope to a defiant Reddy. He was instrumental in the defeat of the Telangana resolution in the state assembly and had staged Arvind Kejriwal-type agitation in Delhi to protest the creation of Telangana.
This even prompted finance minister P Chidambaram to remark that the Congress party has been too tolerant in dealing with dissent on Telangana. "I believe Kiran Reddy should have been asked to step down much sooner as the chief minister," he told NDTV.