Trouble seems to be brewing for Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy from all fronts. Even as Delhi’s decision to divide Andhra Pradesh is just beginning to sink in, Kiran Reddy is slowly turning out to be the villain of the piece. Andhra leaders are privately fretting and fuming that he has kept them in the dark till the last minute, sending feelers that he would resign if division was pushed, but finally bowing to the Delhi diktat to protect his chair.
Branding him a covert, they now seem to be regretting for having lived under the belief so far that Kiran would not allow division of the State at any cost. At one of his meetings with Congress president Sonia Gandhi much ahead of the Telangana announcement, he was said to have been sounded about the impending move.
Back home, Kiran leaked to the media that he had threatened to resign if division was pressed. The truth, however, was that Kiran obtained an assurance that he would be continued as chief minister of the divided Andhra State if he saw through the process. Keeping his cards close to his chest, he did not disclose to any of the ministers the thinking of the Central leadership, conveying an impression all through that division would somehow be stopped.
No wonder, one of them told the Chief Minister at a meeting in the wake of the division that no purpose would be served if they resigned and if at all, Kiran should step down. The Chief Minister reportedly remained silent on hearing this comment. On the other hand, Delhi leaders are said to be extremely unhappy that the Chief Minister has remained a silent spectator to the vandalism in Coastal-Rayalaseema region where statues of former prime ministers Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi were either burnt or pulled down.
It was only after a dressing down by the Central leaders that he advised the police to check such acts. To this day, he has chosen to confine himself to the safe precincts of his camp office, not making any effort to come out into the open and play the role of a leader who is capable of bringing about good sense on both sides of the divide in these difficult times. According to those in the know of the mind of Delhi, the Congress leadership is now beginning to worry whether Kiran, even while pretending to fall in line, would indirectly encourage such actions that would turn out to be a stumbling block in its plans to push through the division process as early as possible so that the Congress can install its governments in both the divided states ahead of the elections.
An interesting poster on Facebook gives an insight into what is happening in the State and how people are viewing Kiran Reddy. It is typical of “missing” advertisements one often finds in newspapers. It says: “The person in this photograph is missing. His name is Kiran Kumar Reddy and he is the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh. Ever since Telangana state was announced, he has not been seen by the people. We request you to come before the people. We will not hurt you for we know how inefficient you are. At best, we will defeat you and your party.” The post ends with a warning: “Whoever gives information about this person will be punished.”