Moves, counter-moves, conspiracies, postures, gestures — not always politically obscene, of course — and divided loyalties have become the hallmark of the four major players in Andhra Pradesh politics. The trigger: Statehood for Telangana.
To split or not to split is no longer a question in Andhra Pradesh. Splits are actually happening, at least in the Congress, YSR Congress and TDP camps. But the fourth player in the state, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), which has the biggest stake in Telangana, is quietly waiting for its pound of flesh.
TRS chief K Chandrasekhara Rao, whose politics revolves only around Telangana, is lying low at his farmhouse in Medak. "We would react when the Centre makes an announcement. As of now, it's the Congress's business," Tarakarama, Chandrasekhara's son, told HT.
In fact, all the players had been waiting for the Congress to take the bouquets or the brickbats — depending on which direction they come from — till it delivered a bouncer by opening up the possibility of the state's division. And those who believed too strongly in the Congress's history of inaction have been caught on the wrong foot.
N Chandrababu Naidu's Telugu Desam Party and YS Jaganmohan Reddy's YSR Congress had been playing it safe all this while, arguing: "Since the Congress is in power, both at the Centre and the state, let them take a decision first."
They even demanded that the home ministry convened all-party meetings to take a final call. For, they had been confident that the Congress would ultimately go for the status quo.
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But keeping his cards too close to the chest hit Naidu badly. In 2008, the party told a committee that it won't oppose Telangana. But when the Telangana statehood announcement came a year later, TDP legislators from the Andhra-Rayalaseema areas resigned in protest.
Even on Wednesday last, Naidu said, "We have already made our stand very clear," without spelling out what the stand actually was. While a pro-Telangana stand would definitely damage the TDP in the coastal Andhra region, the party would not like to spoil its chances in Telangana. Hence the evasion.
Telangana has proved disastrous for the YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) too. It has done a Naidu to YSR Congress' honorary president and Jaganmohan's mother YS Vijayamma, who is in charge after Jaganmohan had been sent to jail in a disproportionate assets cases.
All YSRCP MLAs — barring Vijayamma — resigned on Thursday to protest the Congress move to divide the state. It coincided with the Telangana meetings in New Delhi and came two days after the results of the first phase of the panchayat polls.
The YSRCP, seen as a pro-unity party, failed in Telangana, but did well in coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema. Its pro-unity stand boomeranged when its Telangana leaders revolted.
Konda Surekha, an old loyalist and a former minister in the YSR ministry, asked Vijayamma to clarify the party's stand. "We are unsatisfied with the explanation (on the party's Telangana stand). We'll announce our action soon," she said on Saturday.
Interestingly, while the two strong regional parties play — the rules of the game are by now clear — the Seema-Andhra Congress ministers are away in Delhi, lobbying hard against the state's division.