Isolating chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy further, rural development minister Dokka Manikya Varaprasad on Wednesday portrayed his boss as one who was defying the party high command, forgetting the fact that he is what he is because of the party.
“The chief minister is surrounded by a group of sycophants who are trying to make him believe that he is bigger than the party. He is totally under their influence and is not listening to wise counsels,” Manikya Varaprasad said at a news conference at his office here on Wednesday.
The minister’s broadside came a day after 10 ministers including Union minister Chiranjeevi met at finance minister A Ramnarayana Reddy’s house where they adopted a slogan - Save Congress and Save AP - which means - target the chief minister and see that there is no political recoil in Seemandhra districts.
According to sources, the drama that is unfolding to isolate the chief minister to the extent possible is at the instance of the party high command which wants Kiran Reddy to step down. The party high command is keen that he should leave on his own to facilitate the process of Telangana state formation, but the chief minister is reluctant to demit office. The idea is to let him feel humiliated. “There are only two ministers with him now - S Shailajanath and Pithani Satyanarayana. All others have left his company,” one source said.
The party high command does not appear to be entertaining the idea of dismissing him since it would make Kiran Kumar Reddy a hero who would be able to inflict maximum damage to the party. “Let him go and start a political party as his advisors are telling him to do. Sooner the better for the Congress,” one minister said.
While this is so, Manikya Varaprasad’s stinging criticism of the style of functioning of the chief minister, came as no surprise as it was expected of him sooner than later. Manikya Varaprasad, who is miffed with the chief minister for not paying him much attention whenever he went to him with a saner counsel, says:” Kiran Reddy listens to his sycophants. I cannot talk the way they do. I call a spade a spade which he does not like. That is why he does not give me any importance,” he said.
In his news conference, Manikya Varaparad took enough pains to establish the fact that Kiran Redy was clearly defying the party high command. “Voicing concerns of Seemandhra is one thing and questioning the authority of the party high command is another,” the minister said and pointed out: “For instance, we may differ with the chief minister at cabinet meetings. But we finally go by the decisions taken there. Similarly, when CWC takes a decision on Telangana, it is the duty of the Congressmen to honour it. I, for myself, honour the decision though I may not agree with it and would certainly bring pressure on the party high command to ensure justice to the people on the other side of the divide. But I never defy party leadership and I intend to continue in the Congress for the rest of my life,” he said scotching rumours that he might soon find himself in the company of YS Jagan Mohan Reddy.
The minister, while appearing not to expose the chief minister, did exactly the same - during his press conference. “The chief minister had concern for the people of Seemandhra. That is why he was batting for them,” he said but pointed out: “If one felt injustice was being done to people of one region, one should approach the party high command. What is the point in provoking people against the party?” he said. Asked if the chief minister was planning to float a party, he said there was no such proposal now. To another question, he said that Kiran Reddy will continue as the chief minister and that there may not be President’s rule in the state either.