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Someone is doing a lot of thinking about politics in Andhra Pradesh, says Aditi Phadnis
'Brace brace brace' is the cry to warn passengers in an airplane in the event of an aircrash or if the plane is about to hit water. This is the cry that Congressmen in Andhra Pradesh are hearing.
It is a matter of days. The Congress high command could issue a notice to Y S Rajasekhara Reddy's son Jagan Mohan Reddy any time now asking him to show cause why an action should not be taken against him for anti-party activity.
The Congress Member of Parliament from Kadapa expects such a missive -- indeed he is been doing everything to invite it. The only question is whether he will be suspended or expelled. He will get to keep his seat either way. But while a suspended Reddy will glow as a beacon to confused Congressmen, an expelled Reddy might take some Members of Legislative Assembly away with him but will be out of the Congress' hair for the years to come.
Although the Congress party has overtly taken no action against Reddy's defiance of the party's diktat that he should not proceed with his Odarpu (condolence) yatra (supposedly to condole families of those who had died or killed themselves after the aircraft accident that claimed the life of Y S Rajasekhara Reddy), a senior minister said (not so cryptically) that the Congress always gives its members a long rope to hang themselves.
There are some indications that the noose might be tightening. Last week, the Centre cancelled its earlier approval to the Andhra Pradesh Mineral Development Corporation for the exploration of iron ore in Bayyaram and other mandals in Khammam district.
This effectively ended the Corporation's joint venture with Rakshana Steels Ltd that wanted to set up a steel plant. The Centre had earlier reserved 56,690 hectares of land in favour of APMDC in Bayyaram, Garla and Nelakondapally mandals in Khammam district for the exclusive exploration covering survey and investigation of mineral bearing areas.
Rakshana Steel is said to be backed by Bro. Anil Kumar, Jagan Mohan Reddy's brother-in-law and Christian evangelist.
In Hyderabad, the law is being allowed to take its course. In the last phase of the Odarpu yatra in Khammam district, as soon as Jagan Mohan Reddy left Secunderabad, people -- supposedly Telangana separatists -- began blocking roads and railway tracks.
At that point, some supporters fired at the protesters. Jagan Mohan Reddy was arrested in Warangal and brought back to Secunderabad. So that the government didn't look silly firing at a yatra by an MP from its own party, 12 ministers in the Rosaiah government held a press conference supporting the decision to disrupt the yatra. Many of the ministers were those who had earlier supported Reddy.
The third phase of his yatra has been subjected to rigorous do's and don'ts: keep the meetings with the families low key, don't go to meet them, instead ask them to meet you at district headquarters, install just one statue of your father in a district
Jagan Mohan Reddy has gone too far in his political journey to abandon it here. But the Congress leadership has been slow and deliberate in its emasculation of him. Obviously, it doesn't want to lose a government in Andhra Pradesh.
So Praja Rajyam chief Chiranjeevi has been drafted as a Congress supporter, at the personal invitation of Sonia Gandhi herself. Chiranjeevi is now saying that it is the 'duty' of the Praja Rajyam to come to the aid of the Congress!
In the 294-member assembly, the Congress has 157, the Praja Rajyam has 18 and the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen has 7. Even if Jagan Mohan departs from the Congress with 30 or more MLAs (which is highly unlikely), the Congress will still have enough to stay afloat. Discreet hints are being given that two deputy chief ministerships will be created in the near future.
Two MLAs who overtly supported Reddy have already been suspended from the party. His biggest advisor, K V P Ramachandra Rao, who has extensive business interests, is already reconsidering relations with him, especially after environmental clearance to the Sompeta thermal Power plant, promoted by the Nagarjuna Construction Company, was withdrawn by the Centre. The odd thing is another thermal plant in the same district has got environmental clearance.
Those in the Andhra Pradesh unit of the Congress who can't see the full picture that is emerging expect the sky to fall on their head any moment now.
It won't happen. Someone is doing a lot of thinking about politics in Andhra Pradesh.