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Kiran quits, mum on future

Hyderabad, Feb.19: Minutes before giving up the Andhra crown, Kiran Kumar Reddy today announced he was “ashamed” of being a member of the party that passed the Telangana bill “in violation of the Constitution” and traditions and customs of Parliament.

The outburst came at a news conference the chief minister held at his official bungalow before handing in his papers to the governor. He also quit the Congress and resigned as MLA but kept the suspense up on what his next step would be.

Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan has accepted Reddy’s resignation. The Union cabinet is meeting at 9.15am tomorrow to recommend the imposition of President’s rule in Andhra.

Flanked by eight cabinet colleagues and several state legislators at the news conference, Reddy mounted a frontal attack on the Congress, accusing it of flouting democratic convention and colluding with the rival BJP to push the bifurcation bill through.

“I strongly condemn the shady deal between the Congress and the BJP in ensuring the passage of the bill against the interests of the Telugu-speaking people,” he said.

But he ducked queries on whether he would float a party. “I have decided to quit in resentment against the unilateral manner in which the Congress leadership went ahead with the bifurcation,” he said, making it clear there was no way he would reconsider his resignation.

The four-time Congress MLA from Chittoor district was known as “Jackpot CM” because he straightaway became chief minister without being a minister. He was Speaker for a year and Assembly chief whip during Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy’s first innings.

In Delhi, Union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said Reddy had no option but to quit after the Centre’s decision to split Andhra.

Andhra Congress chief Botsa Satyanarayana said Reddy’s resignation would not have any impact on the Telangana bill. “I also oppose bifurcation but abide by the party decision. Many parties and leaders did a U-turn for their own personal agenda,” he said, hitting out at Reddy’s quit decision.

Reddy said neither were Seemandhra MPs given a chance to study the bill nor were the people’s concerns taken into consideration. He clarified that he was not against the aspirations of the people of Telangana but was opposed to bifurcation as it did not take care of the interests of both regions equitably.

He claimed development would suffer immediately and disputes between the two regions over power, irrigation, education, employment and other sectors would become a regular feature.

The eight ministers present at the news conference were Pithani Satyanarayana, S. Sailjanath, M. Mahidhar Reddy, T.G. Venkatesh, Kasu Venkata Krishna Reddy, Erasu Pratap Reddy, K. Parthasarathy and Ganta Sreenivasa Rao. Many of them also quit the Congress.

Raghuveera Reddy, who was revenue minister, said he would not resign from the Congress. Gali Muddukrishnam Naidu and Bojja Gopalikrishna Reddy of the Telugu Desam quit as MLAs in protest against Telangana.

A bandh called by the YSR Congress, Desam and other parties is being observed in the coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions. Police have beefed up security to thwart attempts to disturb law and order.

Buses stayed off roads and shops and business establishments downed shutters at many places. Hundreds of protesters took to the streets and held rallies and raised slogans. Some formed human chains condemning the bifurcation.

“Paramilitary and state police forces have been deployed at different locations, including public places and central government offices, as a precautionary measure. Bus services were affected in Visakhapatnam, Srikakulam and Vizianagaram districts,” P Umapathi, DIG, Visakhapatnam Range, said.