Millennium Post

Seeking to be martyrs

With general elections round the corner, two states – Delhi and Andhra Pradesh – appear to be moving towards President’s rule as chief ministers of both the states are in a mood to quit for different reasons. They are two different personalities and can no way be clubbed together as comparing them may be like apples and oranges. Their situations are also entirely different but both want to leave as martyrs for their respective causes. While Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal is threatening to quit if the Janlokpal bill is not passed by the Delhi Assembly, Andhra Pradesh chief minister Kiran Reddy wants to quit if the Telengana bill is passed by Parliament.

Take the case of AAP chief Kejriwal who has taken over the reins recently. He has become a phenomenon and after the unprecedented success in Delhi, the AAP wants to go national and win some seats in the coming Lok Sabha elections. Kejriwal would find it easier to go on national campaign if he is not confined to Delhi administration. He has realized that as Delhi chief minister he has only limited powers as the police is not with him, nor is the DDA while the trifurcated municipal corporations are controlled by the BJP.  In the past one month he has threatened to quit at the drop of a hat almost on any issue.  His critics say that he has realised that he will not be able to deliver his tall promises and therefore he is indulging in such drama.

First he was reluctant to form the government. Then he tried to provoke the Congress by sitting in Dharna and sleeping on the pavement near Rail Bhavan taking on the police, but somehow a face saving formula from the Lt Governor solved led to the withdrawal of dharna. Even before the dust settled down, Kejriwal has begun this controversy about the Jan Lokpal bill insisting there is no need for prior permission from the Lt. Governor. Now the AAP chief is threatening to quit if the bill is not passed. This does not suit the Congress and the BJP. Both would rather see Kejriwal fail rather than quit his post now.

The Congress would not pull out even if the party was provoked by the AAP until the Lok Sabha polls. The BJP is ready for the President’s Rule, as it does not want to form the government if the AAP ministry falls in case Kejriwal resigns. That is why there is no other option than going for President’s rule if Kejriwal quits.

As for Kiran Reddy, he is a lightweight and is leading the campaign against bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh. He has defied the Congress high command by getting the Telengana bill rejected in Andhra Pradesh Assembly. While the Congress is twiddling its thumbs about taking action against him, Kiran is getting ready to launch his own outfit hoping that after Telengana becomes a reality his outfit could find some support in the Seema-Andhra regions. He knows that he cannot win his own seat if he remains in Congress after the bifurcation.  He too wants to be a martyr giving up his throne for the cause of United Andhra. With the Telengana bill facing a stormy weather in Parliament, the government is in a bind as to how to go forward as it does not have the numbers in Lok Sabha.

The key is with the BJP as without the BJP’s help the bill cannot be passed in either house. BJP will agree only on its own terms and that includes half a dozen amendments. If the bill is not passed in this session, which is the last session of the 15th Lok Sabha, the Congress will lose the entire state. If a separate Telengana is formed, the party hopes to get at least 15 seats after the merger of the TRS. But TRS will not merge unless Telengana becomes a reality.  In the Seema-Andhra regions the YSR Congress is gaining ground and the TDP too is looking after its tie up with the BJP.
 There are two options before Congress in dealing with Kiran Reddy. The first and the easier option is to sack him but the Congress wants to wait and watch until the current session is over as sacking him will have its own repercussions within the party and the Congress needs the numbers at any cost. Moreover sacking him will make Kiran a martyr for the United Andhra cause. The second option is how to face the situation if Kiran resigns on his own, which he has been threatening.  There is an opinion in the party that with elections just few weeks away, there is no point in putting another person as chief minister and therefore President’s rule should be imposed.

The current session has shown the directionless way the UPA government is functioning, even on the question of introduction of the T-bill. Either way there will be law and order problem in Andhra Pradesh on the Telengana issue.  The next few days will reveal which way Andhra Pradesh and Delhi will go as every day a new drama is unfolding.

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