As he steps into the hot weather of Delhi on Friday, integrationist N Kiran Kumar Reddy will perhaps face the toughest test of his political career and as Chief Minister.
A day before the trio — Kiran Reddy, Deputy Chief Minister Damodar Rajanarasimha and PCC president Botcha Satyanarayana — were summoned to Delhi ahead of the CWC meet expected to happen soon, united Andhra Pradesh protagonists seem to be slowly giving up the fight. To all those who have been calling on him in the past two days, Kiran Reddy, who was till recently confident that the State would be united, seems to be conveying an impression that he did his best and nothing much could be done now. Wednesday’s meeting of ministers from Coastal-Rayalaseema, it now turns out, was held at his behest as a last-ditch attempt.
The Chief Minister reportedly called up ministers S Sailajanath and Kondru Murali and advised that they hold a meeting and put pressure on Delhi not to go ahead with division. In the end, there were no fireworks at the meeting.
On the contrary, there was lukewarm response when a couple of participants suggested that all the ministers resign in the event of division of the State. On Thursday, even as Delhi stepped on the gas, the reaction from the non-Telangana region was by and large muted barring dissent from two staunch loyalists of Kiran, one of them an MLA from Telangana and another from Kadapa, who quit the Assembly. But, their story on television channels ended in an hour with other ministers and MLAs from Coastal-Rayalaseema pleading that the State be kept united but, with a rider that they will ultimately abide by the party high command’s decision.
Even as Kiran-baiters are engaged in scheming his removal on the ground that a known anti-Telangana leader cannot be at the helm if the process of division is indeed taken up, the buzz in Congress circles is that some major development could be expected Friday after the Chief Minister completes his engagements in Delhi with top leaders. The other theory doing the rounds is that Kiran himself may not like to continue if the final decision is in favour of division and he has indicated as much to the central leadership.
The results of the local body elections have also not helped strengthen his hands. When the Congress is relegated to a poor third in his native Chittoor district, how can he claim that he will win 25 Lok Sabha seats for the party if the State is kept united? is a question being posed by his opponents.
Right from the days his father, N Amarnath Reddy, was in politics, the family remained staunch integrationists and Kiran is no different whatever be his public posturing.
If push comes to shove, will he prefer moving a resolution in the House for division?
If so, where does he stand in the political space in Coastal-Rayalaseema region is a question he is bound to pose for himself and will have to find the answer himself.
Though the final official word is still not out on the contentious issue, some high-level functionaries with whom Express got in touch are of the view that Delhi has now gone too far ahead to go back on the issue of division.
Back in 2009, announcement of a separate T state came as a surprise and shock to both sides of the divide. While people of Telangana rejoiced over getting something that was not expected, there was backlash elsewhere.
But, this time round, it is the Congress which has built up the mood in favour of a separate T and consequences of going back could be far more severe than three years before, said one of them.
Making Hyderabad a joint capital for 5/10 years, bringing some crucial subjects like law and order in Hyderabad under the control of a neutral functionary like the
Governor and a package for the rest of the state for building a new capital in due course are some of the measures Delhi hopes will help contain the negative fallout outside Telangana.