Andhra Pradesh chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy has called a meeting of Congress legislators at his residence in Hyderabad on Sunday where he is expected to take a decision on his resignation over the Telangana issue.
Sources in the state Congress said Reddy has almost decided to step down from the post and wants to take his loyalists in confidence before announcing his exit from the government and party. There are indications that he may launch his own 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 and the sources did not rule it out as a front for Reddy and his supporters. The party has sought to make the cricket bat its election symbol — Reddy once played Ranji cricket for Hyderabad — and its flag has a map of united Andhra, as its name suggests, in green and saffron.
With his defiant stand against the Centre’s decision to form a separate Telangana state, Reddy has emerged a champion of united Andhra and his camp believes the new party would give a tough fight to both the Telugu Desam Party and YSR Congress in the Seemandhra region (made up of coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema).
If Reddy decides to quit, some ministers, a significant number of MPs and legislators from Seemandhra may follow suit and resign en masse,” a state Congress leader said.
However, the Congress’ central leadership is confident Reddy won’t rock the boat just yet. A senior central leader said the CM would wait for Parliament’s winter session to conclude and then decide his future move.
“Reddy has so far maintained the last ball is yet to be bowled on Telangana. He will try his best to stall the bill first in Lok Sabha and then Rajya Sabha,” the leader said.
The Telangana bill was tabled in Lok Sabha on Thursday amid violence and vandalism by MPs on both sides of the divide, which prompted the Speaker to suspend 16 legislators till February 20.
Continuing his “harsh” criticism of his own party, Reddy on Thursday accused the Congress of “acting in an undemocratic manner”.
“The Congress leadership says the BJP is a communal party spreading poison. But it surprisingly hosts a lunch for that party to divide a state,” he said, referring to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s lunch meeting with BJP leaders earlier this week.
“The PM says his heart bleeds over disruptions in Parliament but what about breaking the hearts of crores of people from Andhra Pradesh?”