N Kiran Kumar Reddy, who quit as Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister in protest against its division to create Telangana, today announced formation of a new party ahead of elections on the promise of upholding the "dignity and prestige" of Telugu people.
Ending weeks of speculation, Reddy who quit the Congress on February 19, said the policies and programmes of the new party would be unveiled at a public meeting at Rajahmundry in coastal Andhra on March 12.
"Together we are starting a new party for upholding the prestige and dignity of Telugu people which was hurt very badly by the way they divided the State.
"They violated the conventions and procedures...Insulting to Telugu people...That's the reason we are starting a new party to uphold the dignity and prestige of Telugu people...," said Reddy, who was flanked by some MPs who were expelled earlier from Congress for moving a no-confidence motion against the UPA government.
Indicating that he was looking forward to poll battle in Seemandhra region, the former chief minister sought to target TDP and YSR Congress Party, which are projected to be front- runners in the residuary Andhra Pradesh (Seemandhra) by some opinion polls.
TDP Chief N Chandrababu Naidu, who was chief minister for nine long years and has been opposition leader in the Assembly for 10 years, could not express his views for keeping the State united and "it's disgraceful", alleged Reddy.
He charged Jagan Mohan Reddy-led YSR Congress with actually seeking division of Andhra Pradesh though posturing that they were in favour of united state for the sake of CM's post (in Seemandhra).
Reddy had been holding consultations with his supporters, including expelled Congress MPs, some ministers and MLAs and also leaders of employees' unions, on floating a new outfit since his resignation as chief minister.
He had also reportedly commissioned surveys to gauge the mood of people on the prospects of new party if it were to be launched on the plank of "Samaikyandhra" (united Andhra Pradesh).
"The (new) party would have the heart-beat of the Telugu people as its aim and objectives and its plan of action will reflect that," Reddy said.
The former Congress leader also hit out at both the Congress and BJP for "failing" to gauge the sentiment of Telugu people in the context of division of Andhra Pradesh.
"...(L K) Advani says he has not (seen) such a defective bill. Sushma Swaraj said the bill was not introduced at all (in Lok Sabha). Our (Congress) party's Prime Minister says (his) heart bled with the unruly behaviour of MPs...Not a single party reflected views of Telugu people," he said.
Reddy also dismissed allegations of corruption levelled against him by his cabinet minister and by some Opposition parties.
"Whoever has the proof, they can give it to Governor, the court and get a notice issued to me. I am not afraid of anything. I am not the one to let myself to be tainted," Reddy said.
Citing example of unification of Germany, he indicated that Andhra Pradesh can still come together. "There is no wall here (Andhra Pradesh). They (Germans) broke walls".
At the press conference to announce formation of the new party, Kiran also said "our agenda will be novel and reflect the aspirations and thoughts of Telugu people not only in the state but wherever they are."
He said he quit the Congress only because it took the decision (to divide the state) that "betrayed" Telugu people.
"We will stand by the Telugu people whose hearts are badly hurt", he added.
Expelled Congress MPs Lagadapati Rajagopal, Sabbam Hari, G Harsha Kumar, A Sai Pratap and former minister Pitani Satyanarayana were present. Kiran said another MP, Rayapati Sambasiva Rao, could not attend as he was late while Undavalli Arun Kumar was "unwell".
Another former minister S Sailajanath was away in the US for medical treatment, it was informed.