Hyderabad, Jan 24 (IANS) The suspense continues over a new political party as banners and posters have sprung across Seemandhra while a media blitzkrieg has been launched on television channels in support of a united Andhra Pradesh.
With the debate on the bill for forming a separate Telangana state entering the final phase following an extension granted till Jan 30 by President Pranab Mukherjee, this suspense appears to have prolonged.
The slogan carried on the banners put up in Seemandhra (Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra) and the advertisements on television channels have only added to the speculation that Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy will float the new party.
Kiran Reddy, who has rebelled against Congress leadership for its decision to bifurcate the state, is expected to announce his resignation at the end of his speech in the assembly on Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill 2013, referred by the president for its opinion under Article 3 of the Constitution.
While speculation in political circles is rife for many weeks that the chief minister will float the new party by taking advantage of his new-found image of the champion of Seemandhra, the recent media blitzkrieg has only heightened this.
According to sources in the Congress, Vijayawada MP Lagadapati Rajagopal is behind the campaign for 'samaikyandhra' or united Andhra. Some say it will be Rajagopal who will float the new party and Kiran Reddy, along with some ministers from Seemandhra and five MPs, will join it.
Rajagopal is one of the six rebels MPs from Seemandhra who had moved a no-confidence motion against their own party led-United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in the Lok Sabha.
The publicity material for 'samaikyandhra' carries the slogan 'samaikyandhra is our policy, Jai samaikyandhra is our slogan'. Interestingly, Kiran Reddy had used these words on many occasions during last three months.
One of the two TV ads questioning the division was also aired after the Dec 9, 2009 statement by the central government on initiating the process to form a separate Telangana state. Rajagopal was behind that campaign too.
An intense debate began in political circles over the proposed party after P. Satyanarayana, one of the ministers loyal to Kiran Reddy, went on record that politicians and people of Seemandhra want a new party.
A Congress legislator loyal to the chief minister has even claimed that the proposed party could bag 50 assembly seats and play role of a kingmaker in the residuary state.
Political observers say Kiran Reddy will turn his speech in the assembly during the debate on Telangana bill into a launching pad for the new party. His loyalists feel the environment in Seemandhra is conducive to float a new party as both the YSR Congress and the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) are facing people's anger for supporting bifurcation.
YSR Congress chief Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy's opponents are accusing him of entering into a secret deal with the Congress leadership under which he got bail in a corruption case. The TDP is under pressure due to allegation that its letter to the central government backing the demand for Telangana state paved the way for the bifurcation.
The chief minister has already gave enough indications of what's on his mind. "I never expected that I will be forced to choose between the party and the cause of a united Andhra Pradesh," he remarked while beginning his speech in the assembly Wednesday evening.
The chief minister, who also spoke briefly Thursday, is likely to go all out against the Congress leadership during his speech, which may continue next week in view of the extension of time granted.
Facing criticism not just from opposition but also his own party leaders from Telangana for the rebellion against the leadership despite earlier assurance to abide by its decision, Kiran Reddy is explaining the reasons for the revolt.
He reportedly conveyed to some ministers from Seemandhra that he has a surprise up his sleeve to stall bifurcation. Apart from possibly announcing his resignation at the end of his speech, he is also likely to move a resolution in favour of united Andhra Pradesh, despite strong objection from Telangana lawmakers.
"No game is over till the last ball is bowled," Kiran Reddy, a former cricketer, had said a few weeks ago. He appears to be getting ready to play the last ball.
(Mohammad Shafeeq can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)