Has Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy’s veiled threat to step aside if the Congress high command decides in favour of division boomeranged on him badly?
It appears so going by the sequence of events over the past few days. During the course of the series of meetings he held with party leaders in the run-up to his Friday visit to Delhi, Reddy is understood to have dropped hints that he would not hesitate to resign if he is forced to execute division of State. As if taking a cue, quite a few leaders from Coastal-Rayalaseema too held out a similar threat, albeit privately.
While this paper reported on Thursday itself that Kiran was contemplating an “extreme step”, almost all vernacular newspapers came out with a similar version Friday morning. There was no reaction from the Chief Minister’s camp. A national channel flashed the “breaking news” a few hours later. Still, there was no reaction. Finally, past 2 o’ clock, the media received an SMS from the PR wing of the government soon after Reddy had a brief one-on-one with Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
The statement said: “Reports of Chief Minister threatening to quit are malicious in nature. Smt.Soniaji is our leader. I have high respect for Madam. Personally, I have the greatest regard for her as a true Congressman.”
Coming as it did soon after Reddy met Sonia, it suggested she gave him a piece of her mind. According to sources, Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde too called up the Chief Minister on Wednesday night and advised him to “fall in line” with whatever decision Delhi takes.