Behind all the chaos about the Telangana bill which recently aggravated at the Center, lies the hand of Kiran Kumar Reddy, CM of Andhra Pradesh; someone meant to be Congress’ puppet, but surprised everyone by speaking out otherwise.

Andhra Pradesh is reportedly a boiling cauldron over the Telangana issue today. The proposed bifurcation of the State into two (unofficially termed Telangana and Seemandhra) is a fiery issue in the hot (climatically, temperamentally and in its cuisine too!) state. After Independence, the Telugus of Madras State (or Presidency) were the first to demand a separate Andhra Pradesh. This demand had set the ball rolling and the State Reorganisation Committee was formed.

The Situation Now

The story seems to be being repeated in the reverse today – with the State struggling to remain one, while the Center is trying to bifurcate it. The ruling party Congress, in its infinite wisdom, declared that the State would be bifurcated into two and immediately the people and politicians of the State erupted. There has been no abatement in the high emotions and tempers of the people since the declaration.

Andhra CM protests at Jantar Mantar Nallari Kiran Kumar Reddy

Andhra Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy and others demonstrate against formation of Telangana at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Feb.5, 2014. (Photo: IANS)

Now, the drama has expanded to Delhi. Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh Nallari Kiran Kumar Reddy held a protest in Delhi against the bifurcation of the State. This has put the Centre into a Catch 22 situation. Andhra Pradesh is a Congress State, as is Reddy. By taking the drama into the arena of the Centre, he has made it essential that the Centre has to take some action. Interestingly, Reddy is in the right and the Centre is in the wrong.

Reddy’s Contention

When the proposal of the bifurcation of the state was put in the Assembly, it was voted against. But the wish and verdict of the State was completely ignored. Instead of sending the bifurcation as a proposal, the Centre sent it as intimation. In November 2013, Congress reportedly told (warned?) the Chief Minister and others to fall in line with the bifurcation. But that didn’t come to pass.

andhra minister pepper spray Nallari Kiran Kumar Reddy

Lagadapati Rajagopal a parliamentarian from Andhra Pradesh who was expelled from the Congress recently talks to the press after releasing pepper spray towards fellow members to protest presentation of Telangana bill in the house, in New Delhi on Feb.13, 2014. (Photo: IANS)

Andhraites are angry. As per an article in the online Times of India (dated November 16, 2013): “The Constitution provides special status to Andhra Pradesh by virtue of Article 371D and a Presidential order due to which an amendment of the Constitution is required for the formation of a separate state…..According to city advocates, the government is trying to hasten the process of bifurcation before the elections without following the constitutional procedure. If the amendments to Article 371D are to be carried out for the division of the state, as the Center is planning, Parliamentary procedure mandates not only a two-thirds majority in the Assembly, but the consent of at least 50% of Indian states (that is 15 states) through their respective legislative assemblies is also required for any amendment as per Article 368, they said.”

An Unlikely Source of Havoc

The man in the middle of this whole imbroglio, Nallari Kiran Kumar Reddy was an unlikely candidate to cause this furor or this situation for the parent Congress. Son of a Congress-ite and a career politician, Reddy was first elected in the Assembly in 1989 following his father’s demise.

Reddy, perceived as an YSR (Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy) loyalist, proved to be a dyed-in-the-wool Congress-ite when YSR was suddenly killed in a helicopter crash in 2009. YSR’s son Jagan claimed stake on the Chief Ministerial chair, was rebuffed and quit Congress to form his own party. Some members of the Congress, claiming allegiance to YSR, left with him, while others claiming allegiance to the Congress stayed put. Kiran Kumar Reddy was one of those who stayed put and ascended the Chief Minister’s chair on November 25, 2010 – a little over 14 months since YSR’s death.

Since then Reddy has been low key, though his State hasn’t. The LLB (Reddy) was largely quiet – and ignored by the Center. He was expected to take care of Andhra Pradesh, implement the Centre’s schemes and steer it quietly to the 2014 elections.  A role similar to the one Prime Minister Manmohan Singh played for 10 years. But now, to use a quaint (and rather old-fashioned) phrase, the worm has turned. Piddi jaisa chooha, doom pakda toh nikla kaala naag – as the lyrics from the song D K Bose in Delhi Belly succinctly state – must be the feeling of the powers-that-be as they struggle to handle the situation.

In the meanwhile, Nallari Kiran Kumar Reddy has suddenly metamorphosed into a politician of his own right and a man with his own mind.

By Sujata Garimella

Also See:
You Speak — Telangana : Risking Another Country Demand
Dynastic Parties Demean Our Democracy

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