Ourview | Coping with the Jagan rebellion

Ourview | Coping with the Jagan rebellion

For almost two years now, the Congress party in Andhra Pradesh has spent more time and energy trying to contain Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy’s political rise than on governance. After a case of corruption was filed against him and raids by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) this month, the 39-year-old son of late chief minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy hit back on Monday.

At least two dozen Congress legislators owing allegiance to Jagan Mohan Reddy staged an open revolt and resigned from the state assembly and primary membership of the party, ostensibly to protest against the naming of Rajasekhara Reddy, popularly known as YSR, in a first information report by CBI.

Arguments by Congress loyalists that the party and the state government had nothing to do with the case cut no ice with the rebels, who say it is an attempt to besmirch the reputation of YSR, who died in a 2 September 2009 helicopter crash, and to sabotage the career of his son.

Overtly the state government has no role to play in CBI’s case that Jagan Mohan Reddy attracted investments by companies and individuals into his many businesses in return for favours such as land allotments, irrigation contracts and mining leases during his father’s five years in power.

CBI is investigating the assets of Jagan Mohan Reddy on the orders of the Andhra Pradesh high cour.

Jagan Mohan Reddy has painted the case as an attack on his father, who remains a popular figure in Andhra Pradesh. YSR won much of the credit for the Congress’ back-to-back electoral victories in the southern state in 2004 and 2009. For Andhra Pradesh the upshot of the wider revolt Jagan Mohan Reddy has engineered in the Congress is more political uncertainty.

Since late 2009, the state of 85 million people has been subjected to ceaseless infighting within the ruling party as well as turmoil over the campaign for a separate state of Telangana that caused at least 39 Congress lawmakers to offer resignations in July that were rejected by the assembly speaker. The Congress leadership may take a less charitable view of the Jagan Mohan Reddy supporters than it did of the Telangana backers. If the resignations are accepted, the government may not fall given the assembly math, but the ensuing by-elections will be a key political test for both sides.

Will the ruling party be able to quell infighting in its Andhra Pradesh unit? Tell us at views@livemint.com