Nara Ramamurthy Naidu, rebel Telugu Desam Party leader and younger brother of Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, is thinking of launching a movement for separate Rayalaseema state.
However, TDP leaders feel they are the 'desperate moves of a political lightweight who wants to garner cheap publicity'.
"How can somebody of Ramamurthy's stature hope to launch a movement in a region with eight Lok Sabha seats and 53 assembly seats when he does not have support in his hometown [Chandragiri in Chittoor district] itself," asked a TDP functionary.
Ramamurthy, who is cold-shouldered by his brother, has been meeting dissidents in the TDP and other parties such as the Congress.
He created a flutter in political circles by holding an hour-long meeting with Telangana Rashtra Samithi president and former minister K Chandrasekhar Rao at the latter's residence in Hyderabad on Thursday. The discussions centered on the 'injustice' done to Rayalaseema and Telangana regions by successive governments.
Chandrababu has decided to ignore his sibling. Ramamurthy's talks with Rao did not figure in the routine meeting that the chief minister had with his colleagues on Thursday night.
Rayalaseema is one of the three regions that constitute Andhra Pradesh. With a population of 13.46 million spread over four districts, Rayalaseema is the most backward region in terms of agriculture, industry, infrastructure and other socioeconomic indicators. The average annual rainfall here is 56cm against coastal Andhra region's 85cm and the state's 79cm.
Ramamurthy told Rao that he had preliminary discussions with other leaders from Rayalaseema, including former minister S V Subba Reddy, TDP founder N T Rama Rao's son Nandamuri Harikrishna and prominent Congress leaders from the region Dr M V Mysoora Reddy and J C Diwakar Reddy.
The TRS leader said, "We will support statehood for Rayalaseema region and welcome anybody who espouses this cause."
Ramamurthy made it clear that he would decide his future course of action after ascertaining the feelings of his followers in Chandragiri constituency. "If the people want me, I am ready to lead the fight for redressal of the injustice done to Rayalaseema," he said.
He said he was no longer with the TDP and was free to meet leaders of any political party. He said he had known Rao since 1994 and had met him to seek advice and guidance.
Ramamurthy was elected to the assembly in 1994 from Chandragiri. He lost to Congress' Aruna Kumarigalla in the 1999 assembly polls. He kept aloof for almost three years. When he tried to play an active role in Chandragiri recently, Chandrababu scuttled his moves.
Though he was not expelled from the TDP after he fell out with his brother, Ramamurthy did not renew his membership in protest against the party's decision to keep him away from the enrolment drive in Chandragiri.