With the D-Day on Telangana approaching fast, leaders from either side of the divide seem to be preparing themselves for the future. As the Congress high command has already dropped hints that it’s almost decided to bifurcate the State, Seemandhra leaders are getting ready to swallow the bitter pill whereas their T-counterparts are making preparations for the “momentous occasion".
A day after the AICC top brass summoned the State Congress troika - Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy, his deputy C Damodara Rajanarasimha (he is now in Delhi) and PCC chief Botcha Satyanarayana - on July 26, the Seemandhra camp appeared jittery. As many as 19 ministers from Seemandhra along with several MLAs and others, went into a huddle at Club House in the Ministers’ Quarters here Wednesday.
Though the ministers, probably for the sake of public consumption, declared they would not allow the State to be divided, none came forward to openly defy the party high command. All that they did was “leak” to the media that they were prepared to quit the party in the worst-case scenario. Minister Sake Sailajanath said they had decided to undertake a Delhi Yatra on Friday, the day on which the Congress core committee may take a final call on the T-issue, to persuade the party leadership not to divide the State.
The meeting resolved to “activate” Seemandhra MPs to “intensify” efforts. Later, they drove straight to the camp office of the Chief Minister and held talks with him. A senior minister from Coastal Andhra, who attended the meeting, however, confided to waiting reporters that the meet was just to give an impression that they had put in all efforts to stop division of the state.
“Knowing fully well that our party high command has almost decided to bifurcate the state, we all met here only to put in last-ditch efforts,” he said.
According to him, none other than AICC chief Sonia Gandhi herself had hinted to some of the top leaders of the State Congress that she was inclined to divide the State.
“When some of us met Madam recently, she showed us a letter, submitted to her by 41 T-Congress MLAs seeking statehood to their region in 2001. Recalling that the letter was drafted by none other than the late YS Rajasekhara Reddy, a staunch integrationist, Madam asked us why were we silent when the party leadership had taken constructive steps such as placing the T-issue in the President’s speech and passing a unanimous resolution in the Congress Legislature Party meeting on December 7, 2009,” he said.
A T-Congress MP too confirmed which way the wind’s blowing. When the MP met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh recently, the latter reportedly told him, “You will soon hear good news.”
T-Bill in Monsoon Session
A top Congress leader, privy to the ongoing discussions in Delhi, told Express the party high command has more or less decided to divide the State into Seemandhra and Rayala-Telangana. He said the AICC leadership is still discussing the status of Hyderabad.
“The party leadership might firm up its stance on bifurcation on Friday when the core committee meets. Once the committee fine-tunes the proposal, it will call for a meeting of the Congress Working Committee to endorse the same,” he leader disclosed.
According to him, the Congress high command wants to move the Bill for T-state in the monsoon session of Parliament beginning August 5.
He further said the mood in the AICC leadership is that the decision of bifurcation should be implemented by imposing President’s rule in the state even if Seemandhra ministers resign.
Lobbying for CM’s Gaddi
Sources in the Union home ministry divulged that the Centre has already asked the state administration to prepare for the impending decision. Even the security forces are being deployed to face any eventuality. According to Congress sources, the decision is likely to be implemented from the party itself. That means, in all probability, the APCC might be split into Andhra and Telangana Congress committees.
Against this background, the mood in the T-Congress camp is upbeat. Deputy Chief Minister C Damodara Rajanarasimha, who has been camping in Delhi, on Wednesday called on Union Ministers S Jaipal Reddy and Kamal Nath separately.
Expecting change of guard in the state after the T-decision for smooth transition from AP to two states, several top politicos from the region such as K Jana Reddy and former PCC boss D Srinivas have reportedly intensified lobbying to occupy the chief minister’s post in the event of Kiran Reddy stepping down.