Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy is keeping everyone guessing about his next move even as the central government tabled in parliament a bill to break up the state.Speculations were rife that he would quit the day the bill for the formation of a Telangana state is tabled in the house. He however chose not to resign Thursday when the bill was tabled in the Lok Sabha amid unprecedented ruckus.Adding a twist, the chief minister - who strongly favours a united Andhra Pradesh - said resignation was only one of the options before him to lodge his protest.Kiran Reddy, who openly defied the Congress leadership over Telangana, is consulting his party colleagues from the Seemandhra (Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra) region.The chief minister had earlier dared the central government to table the bill in parliament."If the bill is tabled and passed in parliament, I will quit politics," he had said Jan 30, the day his resolution rejecting the Telangana bill was passed by voice vote in the state assembly.
After the bill was moved in parliament, he again attacked the central government but did not say when he would quit.He also remained non-committal on floating a new political party on the planks of united Andhra.Kiran Reddy, who emerged as the new champion of united Andhra four months ago by openly defying the party leadership, had earlier dissuaded his cabinet colleagues and legislators from Seemandhra from quitting.He had told them to wait till the defeat of the bill in the state legislature. "We will take a collective decision on resignations," he had then said.The 53-year-old, a cricketer in his college days, has once remarked that no game gets over till the last ball is bowled. Clearly, he believes there are many balls still to be bowled.
Political observers say since central ministers from Seemandhra have got into a combative mood in parliament, the chief minister may be waiting for an appropriate time to strike.Sources close to the chief minister have not ruled his resignation along with the mass resignations of the central and state ministers, MPs and state legislators.Some believe that Kiran Reddy may put in his papers Feb 17, when the bill is likely to be taken up in the Lok Sabha for debate.Kiran Reddy, who took his battle for united Andhra to the national capital last week by protesting at Jantar Mantar, had refrained from attacking Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. However, after central minister Pallam Raju found fault with Manmohan Singh's statement on disruptions in parliament, Kiran Reddy also trained his guns on the PM."I cannot understand why he could not see how the hearts of crores of people are bleeding because of the bifurcation decision," he said after Manmohan Singh commented that his heart bled on seeing disruptions in parliament.
Kiran Reddy even found fault with Manmohan Singh for hosting a lunch for leaders of the 'communal' BJP to get their support for the Telangana bill.
Opposition parties, however, say that Kiran Reddy was acting according to the Congress leadership's script."The Congress is playing a new drama by using him as the YSR Congress has weakened in Seemandhra," said Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief N. Chandrababu Naidu.Interestingly, YSR Congress president Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy blames both Kiran Reddy and Naidu for the bifurcation decision.