Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy will be making one final all-out effort to keep Andhra Pradesh united when he makes his presentation at the Congress core group meeting in Delhi on Friday.
Kiran Kumar Reddy is arming himself with a fairly detailed power-point presentation, explaining why the State should not be divided even as he is said to be contemplating an “extreme reaction” in the event of Delhi deciding in favour of bifurcation.
Reddy, along with PCC chief Botcha Satyanarayana and Deputy Chief Minister Damodar Raja Narasimha, has been summoned to the national capital on July 12/13 when discussions are slated to take place on the contentious Telangana issue. Information available with this paper after the series of meetings the Chief Minister had with ministers from both sides of the divide suggests Reddy is preparing himself to take a step that would be seen as “sacrificing self for the interests of the state.”
The latest hints from Delhi indicate a decision on division may not come out Friday as expected. The Congress may prefer to have another meeting of the core group before firming up its position. Probably in line with this thinking, former PCC chief D Srinivas said Wednesday that a decision in favour of Telangana could be expected in 15 days. Back in 2008-09 when the UPA seriously contemplated dividing Andhra Pradesh, the then chief minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy too threatened to resign and promised 30 MP seats for the party if the state was kept united.
The leadership yielded and he delivered. Much water has flown since and it remains to be seen if Delhi will believe such a promise in the current political situation wherein Congress fortunes are sliding with each passing day across the state.
On their part, ministers from Coastal-Rayalaseema region also seem to be contemplating resignation and gearing up to go to the extent of precipitating President’s Rule if Delhi announces division. The strategy seems to be that in such a scenario, it would not be possible to move a resolution in the Assembly proposing division of the State. As such, the whole process could be stalled.
The Chief Minister’s presentation, on which quite a few people including a senior officer in the Chief Minister’s Office have been working, focuses on various implications of bifurcation.
Apart from law and order, the presentation argues that Telangana has not been neglected in irrigation, division could lead to water disputes, coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema will suffer from financial instability as Hyderabad accounts for a major chunk of current revenues and the Congress will forever be seen as an “enemy” in the non-Telangana regions of the State.
Citing the results of past elections, Kiran Reddy is also expected to argue that the statehood sentiment is not as pronounced as it is made out to be. In fact, he has argued on quite a few occasions, though privately, that support for a Telangana State is muted in 70 of the 119 seats in the region.
During the course of discussions with Seemandhra ministers, it was also decided to argue before the party high command that division could lead to disastrous consequences for the party in the rest of the state. It will be pointed out that in 2009, the Telugu Desam, which had an alliance with the TRS, won only three of the 25 seats in Coastal-Rayalaseema regions.
To buttress the argument that the TRS does not have the perceived strength, they will also draw attention to the fact that the separatist party, in alliance with the Congress, contested 46 seats in 2004 but won only 26. Likewise, in 2009, with TDP as its ally, the TRS won only 10 of the 56 seats it had contested.