Cong faces tough time in finding replacement for Kiran Reddy
The Congress’ quiet move to look for a replacement of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Kiran Reddy, who is openly opposing the UPA government decision to bifurcate the state to create Telangana, is turning out to be a long walk given other leaders reluctance to occupy the hot seat.
Congress sources said that at least two Congress leaders including Tribal Affairs Minister Kishore Chand Deo, have not shown interest owing to political heat Reddy’s replacement will generate when the complex and emotive bifurcation process lands on the ground.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi and general secretary in charge of Andhra Pradesh Digvijaya Singh are peeved at Reddy’s open defiance to the party and the government decision for the creation of Telangana, despite several attempts by leaders to mollify him.
Interestingly, Digvijay Singh had on Friday told Telugu journalists that the chief minister had agreed to soften his extreme stand – a possibility which might have arisen over the UPA government attempting to offer a lucrative package to Seemandhra region to compensate for the loss in terms of resources and infrastructure including that offered academic excellence.
A day later, Reddy, who was in the national capital to meet the prime minister for demanding a compensation package for relief and rehabilitation post cyclone Phailin disaster, denied that there was any shift in his stand.
"I have not changed my stance. I am not convinced," he told journalists at AP Bhavan after he had met the prime minister.
The chief minister, who wants to be seen as a martyr for a united Andhra instead of presiding over bifurcation of the state, was of the view that he was not against the sentiments of Telangana people but wanted crucial issues, such as employment, Hyderabad and flood-prone districts, be resolved first.
Congress leaders have been pushing the process to ensure that a bill on the bifurcation is presented before Parliament in the coming session. Digvijay had said that a bill on the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh will be forwarded to the Assembly towards the end of the month.
The prime minister, meanwhile, has announced an interim assistance of Rs 1,000 crore each for Andhra Pradesh and Odisha for relief and rehabilitation. The total quantum of assistance to the states will be finalised after consideration of the on-the spot assessment report of the Inter-Ministerial Central Team.
In addition,the prime minister has sanctioned an ex gratia of Rs 2 lakh each to the next of kin of the deceased and Rs.50,000 each to the seriously injured persons from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund.