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T-Bill: Dissident Andhra MPs and CM deliberate best exit strategy

February 18, 2014 12:31 IST

While Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy is considering staying away from mainstream politics for a few months after resigning, Seema-Andhra MPs are gearing up to join the BJP or YSR Congress, reports Vicky Nanjappa.

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy is likely to quit on Tuesday to protest against the bifurcation of the state, but the chances of him floating a new party appear bleak. With the support of just two MPs and one MLA, it appears that he may just sit out for some time.

Reddy had expected all leaders from the Seema-Andhra region to support him in the launch of a new party. However, his colleagues Lagadapati Rajagopal, Rayapati Sambasiva Rao and Sabbam Hari cozying up to the Bharatiya Janata Party has become a game-changer.

The three Congress MPs who were suspended from Parliament have been in touch with the BJP’s M Venkaiah Naidu and Rajnath Singh since the past two days. They feel that it would be better to go along with the BJP and capitalise on the Narendra Modi wave (BJP's prime ministerial candidate) to target the 40 per cent urban votes in Seema-Andhra. They also feel that a tie-up between the Telugu Desam Party and the BJP will help them in the long run.

These MPs are keeping their options open and may even hold talks with YSR Congress chief Jaganmohan Reddy. While Jagan had praised the MPs for their actions in Parliament, it is yet to be seen if he takes them into his party.

Kiran Reddy is resigning under pressure than out of his own will, say sources in the Congress. He gave the first indication of this when he transferred several officers in the chief minister’s office on Monday night.

Reddy is expected to meet with the governor at 3 pm on Tuesday and following his resignation President’s rule will be imposed in Andhra Pradesh. The Congress in Delhi feels it is easier to bifurcate the state under President’s rule.

While it was speculated that Kiran Reddy would launch a new party, the response to his meetings have not been encouraging. He was criticised for his delayed response on the state bifurcation issue. Reddy, who is not considered a mass leader, was also advised against floating a new party as he would not get support of all MLAs.

He was told it would be better if he stayed away from mainstream politics for a few months and then take a call as the elections near.

Political analysts in Andhra Pradesh point out that the problem for this divide within the Congress is due to the lack of a common agenda. All this while they had a single point agenda -- to block the bifurcation of Telangana. But now with things more of less settled and the Parliament set to pass the bill, the AP Congress is a divided house.

The likes of Lagadapati -- by their actions in Parliament -- have made a statement and in the bargain have saved face before their voters in Seema-Andhra. They now feel it is suicidal to stay on in the Congress. By getting away from the Congress and joining either the BJP or the YSR Congress Party, they feel they have a better chance in the forthcoming elections.

The BJP will play a crucial role on Tuesday. It is necessary that the party supports the bill in order for it to be passed. While the BJP will help pass the bill, they would bargain hard for a package for Seema-Andhra and make this their election plank in the state. The BJP would like to capitalise on the fact that it was the Congress which divided the state, but they played saviour and insisted on a good package for Seema-Andhra.

All in all Tuesday will be a crucial day with the bill likely to be passed in the Lok Sabha.

The Telangana Bill will come up before the Rajya Sabha on Thursday and will be discussed for two hours.

Vicky Nanjappa