Former Andhra Pradesh CM Kiran Kumar Reddy with Rahul Gandhi. (File)
Four years after he left the Congress following a bitter fallout with the leadership over the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, former chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy returned to the party Friday. While negotiations have been on with Reddy for the past two months, there has been no clear reason why the last chief minister of united Andhra Pradesh decided to make a comeback after an abysmal performance in the 2014 state elections. Reddy has reportedly sought a key position in the All India Congress Committee that is befitting his stature, reports PTI.
Reddy’s re-induction into Congress is likely to have been facilitated with an eye on the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Having being reduced to zero seats in the 2014 Assembly elections, the Congress is trying to regain lost ground by bringing back leaders who deserted it for Jagan Reddy’s YSR Congress Party or BJP. Currently, the Congress in Andhra Pradesh is bereft of any strong leader except for the Andhra Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) president N Raghuveera Reddy.
Why he left the Congress
Reddy, who succeeded K Rosaiah as chief minister, left the Congress in protest against the bifurcation of the state, a political hot potato at the time. His main contention was that there would be “water wars” with Telangana if the state was bifurcated.
Delhi Chief Minister Shiela Dikshit, former AP Chief Minister Kiran Reddy before a meeting in New Delhi in 2011. (Express archive)
“I failed to understand why the decision to divide Andhra Pradesh was taken as it is the first state to be formed on linguistic basis. Normally, if there is division, people of both the regions should gain. But in this division of the State, people of both the regions will lose out,” Reddy had said at that time.
The remarks were panned by Congress leaders, with one famously saying that “a commander should not be a conspirator, he should be a statesman”.
The Congress leader then played an instrumental role in the Samaikyandhra Movement, led by president of APNGOs Association P Ashok Babu, which opposed the bifurcation and took to the streets to register their protest.
After the Congress
After the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act 2014 was passed, Reddy quit Congress and floated his own party – the Jai Samaikyandhra Party.
“If I cared for my future, I would have implemented the demands of the Congress party. If I would have quit earlier, Telangana would have been created four months back. So I and my colleagues decided to stay in power and put up a fight for the cause of the Telugu people,” he said after quitting.
Former Andhra Pradesh CM Kiran Reddy after attending a meeting with Home Minister P Chidambaram on the Telangana issue at North Block in New Delhi. (Express archive)
Reddy’s resignation hit the Congress’ fortunes in the elections as noted leaders and MPs like Lagadapati Rajgopal, Sabbam Hari, Undavalli Arun Kumar, G V Harsha Kumar also left the party. However, Reddy failed to gauge the pulse of the voters and failed to win a single seat in the assembly polls. Moreover, his party candidates lost their deposits in several seats.
Going off the radar
After that debacle, Kiran Kumar went off the radar and appeared only at private functions. However, Reddy resurfaced last year after news started doing the rounds that he might join either the BJP or Jana Sena.
But apart from differing ideologies, the BJP was locked in a debate with Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu over granting the state special category status, which ended with the Telugu Desam Party quitting the alliance. Meanwhile, Jana Sena chief ‘Power Star’ Pawan Kalyan announced that he did not want politicians from other parties, especially the Congress, joining him.
Reddy joined the Congress today in the presence of Chandy, Surjewala, former Union Minister MM Pallam Raju and N Raghuveera. (Express photo)
Around the time, Reddy’s younger brother Kishore Kumar Reddy joined the ruling TDP, which had been considered an arch-rival of his family. Following this Reddy laid low until he was approached by the Congress two months ago.
On Friday after returning to the Congress, Reddy said, “Whatever identity I have got, it is because of Congress.”