'Jagan for CM' gains ground
NEW DELHI: The Congress might have appointed K Rosaiah as the successor to YS Rajasekhara Reddy in Andhra Pradesh, but the succession struggle in
the state continues to rage. YSR’s son, Jagan Mohan Reddy, and his supporters are hunkering down after the Congress’ high command refusal to take a call on the leadership issue in a hurry, but they are also keeping the campaign going to make the 36-year-old Kadappa MP the CM in less obvious ways. The moves by the Jagan camp – which include a speech by the young leader about continuing his father’s development work as well as a press statement by close YSR aide, KVP Ramchandra Rao, asking Jagan sup-porters to refrain from using disruptive methods to drive home their demand to the high command -- have triggered fresh machinations by anti-YSR leaders in Congress to scuttle Jagan’s chief ministerial bid. Those opposed to Jagan, such as MP V Hanumantha Rao and Congress Working Committee (CWC) member K Kesava Rao, have been in the Capital and in touch with Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary, Ahmed Patel. The anti-Jagan camp, which also includes the like of the CWC member G Venkataswamy and senior leader V Purushotham Reddy, have been trying to deepen the high command’s suspicion about Jagan and his supporters, notably KVP who is spearheading the ‘Jagan for CM’ campaign. Mr Hanumantha Rao, a Rajya Sabha member and a prominent OBC face of the Congress, addressed a press conference in the Capital on Sunday hitting out at those trying to “project YSR as a bigger leader than the Congress chief”. The context for the comments was the tearing down of Ms Gandhi’s posters in Khammam district by Jagan supporters. Decrying the act, the leader alleged that no MP had spoken out against it and said neither the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) chief D Srinivas nor the CM had taken action against the miscreants. He also hit out at Jagan in a veiled manner. “Few people are spoiling Jagan and ruining his career,” Mr Rao said in what is a likely reference to KVP. He also threatened sit on a 48-hour dharna, noting, “nobody comes before the party president”. His sentiments were echoed by Mr Kesava Rao. These statements stand in stark contrast to the Jagan’s own speech at YSR chopper crash site neat Atmakur on Friday. The leader, who spoke for the first time after his father’s death to large crowds, dwelt on YSR’s work at length, but conspicuously left out mention of the Congress triumvirate of Ms Gandhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Rahul Gandhi. At the show of strength, that would annoy the Congress high command, Jagan also said he would he visiting each district to console the families of those, who according to Jagan camp, had committed suicide or died of heart attacks after hearing the news of YSR’s death in the chopper crash. Pressure tactics of this kind and the signature campaign to make Jagan the CM even before YSR’s body buried had upset the Congress leadership which viewed it as an arm-twisting tactic. However, due to the popular backing for Jagan (most of the 158 Congress MLAs are supporting his candidature) and business interests nurtured by YSR working from behind the scenes, the party continues to grapple with the Andhra situation. With the Jagan camp having refused the offer of a Central berth for the Kadappa MP, the issue is likely to come to a head after the 13 October Assembly elections.