Hyderabad: Kiran Kumar Reddy and S Jaipal Reddy are said to be locked in combat for the Chief Minister’s chair, using natural gas allocation to the state as cover for their power game. Senior leaders in the Congress, citing recent smoke signals from Delhi, say the party high command is seriously considering a change of guard in the state. Therefore the jostling by M/s Jaipal and Kiran.
The chief minister’s camp suspects that Jaipal Reddy has been lobbying for a regime change, using his proximity as a Union minister to the movers and shakers in the high command. Last week’s moves by Kiran Reddy to embarrass the Union minister on the issue of gas allocation to AP were designed to shoo off his challenge, sources say.
Camp followers of Kiran Kumar, notably government whip T Jayaprakash Reddy, have in recent days stepped up their media presence to show Jaipal as conspiring to dethrone the CM. Jaipal Reddy’s followers insist there’s more to it than merely their leader’s desire; the high command too, of its own volition, is mulling a change of leadership in the state. “There are strong indications from Delhi that a change of guard is imminent. Kiran Reddy’s camp is unfairly trying to blame Jaipal Reddy,” said MLCs K Yadav Reddy and K R Amos, close aides of the Union minister.
With a cold war all but declared between the two, the Congress party in the state is beginning to cleave down the middle. Rajya Sabha MP V Hanumantha Rao, MP Ponnam Prabhakar, ministers D Sridhar Babu and K Jana Reddy, and former Rajya Sabha MP K Kesav Rao, and MLCs Amos and Yadav Reddy are behind Jaipal in this cockfight while Kiran’s main supporters are ministers like N Raghuveera Reddy, Kondru Murali and K Parthasarathy, government whips Jagga Reddy and R Padma Raju and former minister J Chittaranjan Das and MLCs M Ranga Reddy and Bhanu Prasad.
Watching with interest from the sidelines are ministers Kanna Lakshminarayana and J Geetha Reddy, party seniors J C Diwakar Reddy, Gade Venkat Reddy and Paladugu Venkata Rao. PCC chief Botcha Satyanarayana, another claimant to the chief minister’s chair, is keeping away from this joust should it prove to be a zero sum game for either of the combatants. Rajya Sabha MP K Chiranjeevi is another aspirant who is ostentatiously ignoring the contest.
As is its wont, the Congress high command has said nothing on the matter, while deputing emissary Vayalar Ravi to whisper suitable encouragement to both camps. Ravi made a flash visit to Hyderabad Sunday, ostensibly to attend the golden wedding anniversary of his friend, the Rajya Sabha MP Palvai Govardhan Reddy.
Fresh after the Congress’ humbling in the last round of byelections, Ravi had declared there would be no change of guard in the state. But time, there was stony silence to the same question. This has made the chief minister’s camp nervous, especially after Ravi said he would be back in Hyderabad next week.