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Why Sonia and Co. are ignoring Kiran Reddy's defiance

Last updated on: November 19, 2013 08:31 IST

Why Sonia and Co. are ignoring Kiran Reddy's defiance

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Anita Katyal in New Delhi

Even though the Congress leadership is deeply embarrassed over Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy’s unwavering opposition to the formation of Telangana, party president Sonia Gandhi is not in favour of imposing central rule in the state.

Sonia, it is learnt, does not wish to deviate from the official procedure of sending the draft statehood bill to the Andhra Pradesh assembly for ascertaining its views on this issue despite the strong reservations among the party’s own legislators about the state’s bifurcation.

This will not be possible if the state assembly is dissolved or placed under suspended animation.

“Sonia does not want to table the Telangana Bill in Parliament by bypassing the state assembly,” a senior Andhra Pradesh leader told rediff.com

It’s a different story if Reddy steps down voluntarily.

In such a case, Reddy would be held responsible for denying an opportunity to the state assembly to place its views on record on this sensitive and critical matter.

The Congress leadership has, therefore, been forced to ignore Reddy’s open defiance to the formation of Telangana even though his stand has been a source of huge embarrassment to it.

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Image: Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy


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“The chief minister has publicly challenged the party high command by speaking out against the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh even after the Congress Working Committee adopted a unanimous resolution in support of a separate state of Telangana,” remarked a senior Congress minister.

Kiran Reddy reiterated his position at the meeting of the Group of Ministers on bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, which had its final meeting in New Delhi on Monday.

The chief minister has upped the ante against the Centre’s decision to go ahead with the statehood bill in an effort to safeguard his own political interests since he belongs to the Seemandhra region where the Congress move on Telangana has met with strong public protests.

Kiran Reddy is not alone. Other Congress MPs and legislators from Seemandhra are equally unhappy over the party’s decision as they find themselves staring at a bleak political future, especially after Jaganmohan Reddy’s YSR Congress took to the streets against the state’s division.

The Seemandhra ministers and MPs who also placed their views before the GOM on Telangana, are now banking on a poor showing by the Congress in the ongoing assembly polls for a possible delay in the passage of the statehood Bill.

“The UPA government will find it very difficult to pass the Bill in the coming session if the Congress fares poorly in these assembly polls,” a Congress MP from Seemandhra pointed out, adding that it will then have to contend with an extremely aggressive BJP. 

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The Congress can ensure the passage of the Bill in the Lok Sabha, it needs the support of other parties in the Rajya Sabha where the UPA does not enjoy a majority.

In fact, the BJP is also having second thoughts about cooperating in the passage of this Bill as it would not like the Congress to walk away with the credit for this momentous decision.

Although it has always been in favour of Telangana, the BJP could delay it on the plea that the grievances of the people of Seemandhra had not been addressed.

This position is in line with the stand taken by the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.  

While most MPs and legislators have not openly defied the party leadership, Reddy has painted himself into a corner with this public position. He may be left with little choice but to put in his papers as such a move would make him a hero in the eyes of the people of Seemandhra.

Having completed its consultations with all stakeholders on Monday, the GOM on Telangana is all set place the draft of the Andhra Reorganisation Bill before the Cabinet by this month-end.

The GoM will now meet on November 21 to finalise its report on the basis of the proposals it has received from all the stakeholders.

The Bill is likely to be sent to the state assembly by the first week of December.

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One scenario emerging is that Reddy will call an assembly session, make an impassioned speech vowing to continue fight against the state’s division and then resign.

The Centre could then impose President’s rule or appoint another chief minister although it will be for a short period since the assembly elections are to be held along with the Lok Sabha elections in April.

Despite all the opposition it is facing from within its own ranks, the Congress-led UPA government has made it clear there is no going back on Telangana. 

“The exercise of discussions is over. We will bring it as soon as possible to the Cabinet... then the Bill will be brought before Parliament in the winter session," Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shind told media persons after the GoM meeting.

According to another GoM member, Petroleum Minister Veerappa Moily the government did not wish to keep this issue hanging and would expedite the process of formation of Telangana. 

After the Cabinet clears the draft Bill, it is sent to the President who then refers it to the Andhra Pradesh assembly for its views under Article 3 of the Constitution.

Although the state assembly is expected to send back its views within a stipulated time frame, these are not binding on the Centre.




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