New Delhi/Hyderabad: The rift in the Andhra Pradesh (AP) unit of the Congress party widened after a section of party leaders allied to Jaganmohan Reddy, a Congress lawmaker and son of the late Andhra Pradesh chief minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, approached the Election Commission to register a state party named “YSR Congress.”
Though neither the party’s central leadership nor Jaganmohan appear keen to escalate matters, the latter is on a yatra in defiance of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi’s wishes.
A Congress general secretary admitted that the state unit is in deep crisis and could head for a split, but added that neither side can “afford to take drastic steps” in the run up to civic polls that are expected to be held in September-October. The Congressman did not want to be identified.
An senior official at the Election Commission confirmed receiving an application to register a party called “YSR Congress” three months ago. He added that the application is being processed and “details are being sought”.
Although one of Jagan’s close associates, a member of the Lok Sabha, said that the effort to register a state party had the consent of the Kadapa MP, another leader, who also requested anonymity, insisted that floating a new party was not on his agenda now. “He does not anticipate any disciplinary action against him since his tour is purely personal. Of course, the tour may help Jagan consolidate his image and public support, thereby emerge as a stronger mass leader to continue the YSR legacy,” the second leader said.
“Besides, many legislators, who met Jaganmohan in the last few days ... are unwilling to back him for a new outfit,” the first leader said.
Jaganmohan had strained ties with the Congress leadership after the latter refused to make him a successor to his father, a former chief minister who died in a helicopter crash in September. Despite repeated warnings from the party high command, Jaganmohan on Thursday resumed his controversial Odarpu yatra in Srikakulam district of Andhra Pradesh, on the birth anniversary of Rajasekhara Reddy.
The young leader appears to be trying to cash in on the popular resentment against the Congress government and the goodwill his father enjoyed, said political analysts. “There is large-scale public unrest in the state both on account of failure of state and central governments in controlling commodity prices, which will come in handy for Jagan to consolidate the clout his family now enjoys,” said C. Narasimaha Rao, a political analyst.
But Congress leaders in New Delhi maintained that there may not be any immediate disciplinary action against Jaganmohan.
Rao agrees. “The Congress high command may not favour initiating any disciplinary action against Jagan now since the party-led government in Andhra Pradesh is living on a fragile majority. Neither do Jagan’s supporters, mostly first time MLAs, seem ready to risk their political careers by joining new party.”
Adds K. Nageswar, a political analyst and an independent member of the state legislative council: “Time is running out for him since the sentiment of YSR’s death is still fresh and may fade out. Moreover, the political landscape of the state will change dramatically post-December 2010, when the Srikrishna Committee submits its report on the bifurcation of AP.”
Jaganmohan, as well as politicians from coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema, had criticized the decision of the Union government to carve out a separate Telangana state from AP. Their protests had forced the Union government to appoint a judicial committee on the issue.
Ruhi Tewari contributed to this story.