Political games afoot to divide, align and rule
By GS Vasu | ENS | Published: 07th October 2013 07:37 AM |
Hard political games are afoot beneath the surface of the ongoing agitation against bifurcation of the State and no party seems immune to this. The Congress central leadership appears to have more or less succeeded in bulldozing its Seemandhra MPs, including Union Ministers, a majority of whom have fallen silent in the wake of the Cabinet’s approval for formation of a Telangana State. It is unlikely that any of the ministers are going to press for acceptance of their resignations, though one of them, MM Pallam Raju, is said to be remarking that his continuance in the Cabinet and thereby, as a member of the GoM, set up to look into issues arising out of division, depends on what kind of assurance he gets on protecting the interests of Andhra-Rayalaseema regions. Back in the State, two episodes over the week have virtually split Congress leaders. First was the meeting held at the residence of Finance Minister Anam Ramnarayana Reddy after which the participants made no secret of their disapproval of the line taken by Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy.
On his part, Kiran seems to believe the meeting would not have taken place without some sort of clearance from Delhi and also sees the handiwork of a couple of MPs behind it. Then came the attack on the properties of PCC chief Botcha Satyanarayana which has divided the Congressmen along caste lines. Interestingly, BC leaders from Telangana were among the first to condemn the attacks, squarely blaming the Chief Minister and Vijayawada MP L Rajagopal for it.
Thus, even as it is going through the process of bifurcating the State, the Congress leadership has managed to bring about a clear divide among its men in Andhra-Rayalaseema regions, irrespective of their public posturing.
But, can division be taken as an inevitable event now or will there be a slip between the cup and the lip? This is the question bothering not only Telangana leaders but also their counterparts on the other side of the divide.
TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu, meanwhile, is set to embark on a fast in Delhi from Monday seeking equal justice to both Telangana and Andhra during the course of division and an animated discussion is taking place on what course the BJP will finally take. Sections within the BJP and others are reportedly putting pressure on the top leadership that the failure of the Congress to douse the flames in Andhra is a good enough reason for the party to negotiate a way to block the T bill in Parliament. A senior party leader had in fact recently arranged a meeting between the party’s Seemandhra leaders with top leaders in Delhi like LK Advani.
The BJP’s Hyderabad-based leaders are, however, firmly against a tie-up with the TDP on the ground that alliance with a regional party will never help them become an alternative political force in the State. “We have 12-15% vote-bank in pockets in Telangana and at least 5% in Andhra. The ideal situation would be to build on this and emerge as an alternative rather than clinging on to the regional parties,” a party leader argued. The TDP is said to be of the view that a tie-up with the BJP would help only if the state remains united. Meanwhile, the latest remarks made by YSRC chief Jagan Mohan Reddy praising Narendra Modi fuelled speculation that he too is mulling the pros and cons of aligning with the BJP. Unlike the TDP, tie-up with BJP for YSRC will not depend on whether the state is united or divided considering that Jagan’s party has virtually no presence in Telangana. But, it would come at the cost of losing the Muslim vote which is now significantly tilted towards YSRC.
On her part, Sonia Gandhi appears firm on getting the T bill introduced in Parliament, though the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) is still not on board with the Congress on the question of merger. “If the bill is blocked, it will give Sonia an opportunity to hit out at the BJP for backtracking on an issue which it had been supporting all along and even question the credibility of other promises being made by Modi and company,” a senior party leader said.