Jagan Reddy’s release likely to accelerate political realignments

Reddy winning bail triggers speculation about the likelihood of a tie-up between the ruling party and his YSR Congress

Liz Mathew &, Yogendra Kalavalapalli
Updated24 Sep 2013, 06:36 PM IST
Jagan Mohan Reddy’s party bagged 15 out of 18 assembly seats in byelections last year, shortly after his arrest. Photo: Arvind Yadav/HT
Jagan Mohan Reddy’s party bagged 15 out of 18 assembly seats in byelections last year, shortly after his arrest. Photo: Arvind Yadav/HT (Arvind Yadav/HT)

New Delhi/Hyderabad: Congress party rebel Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy’s release after 16 months in jail on charges that he had amassed assets disproportionate to his income is likely to accelerate political realignments ahead of the next Lok Sabha elections.

add_main_imageAs a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in Hyderabad granted Jagan Mohan Reddy bail on Monday, a prominent Yadav leader and Lok Sabha member from Haryana, Rao Inderjit Singh, said he was quitting the Congress party. Reddy will be released from Chanchalguda central jail in Hyderabad on Tuesday.

Both the Congress and the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are hunting for allies in the run-up to the general election due by May next year, and Jagan Mohan Reddy’s winning bail immediately triggered speculation about the likelihood of a tie-up between the ruling party and his YSR Congress.NextMAds

The YSR Congress has emerged as a key player in the electoral scene in Andhra Pradesh, which has been rocked by turmoil since Jagan Mohan Reddy’s father Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy died in a helicopter crash in September 2009. Sidelined by the Congress leadership after his father’s passing, Jagan Mohan Reddy left the party and formed the YSR Congress, which has attracted dissidents from the ruling party.

Although a judicial decision, the timing of his release on bail is significant as it comes at a time when the poll fever is building up ahead of the general election that will take place simultaneously with state assembly polls in Andhra Pradesh, analysts said, speculating about a potential tie-up between the Congress and YSR Congress.

“The popular perception is that there is some kind of tacit understanding,” said K. Nageshwar, a political analyst.

Jagan Mohan Reddy’s party bagged 15 out of 18 assembly seats in byelections last year, shortly after his arrest, underlining its emeregnce as a force to reckon with in Andhra Pradesh.

His release comes at a time when Andhra Pradesh has plunged into unrest over the Centre’s decision to grant statehood to the Telangana region. Politicians from the coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions have protested the decision and demanded that the state’s unity be maintained.

The Telangana campaign for statehood, which flared anew in 2009, has divided all political parties on regional lines. Jagan Mohan Reddy’s YSR Congress wields considerable clout in the coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions and a political understanding with the party may help the Congress retrieve lost ground sixthMAds

Jagan Mohan Reddy had resigned from Parliament and his mother Y.S. Vijayamma resigned from the state assembly protesting the 30 July decision of the Congress party to bifurcate Andhra Pradesh.

N. Chandrababu Naidu, president of the principal opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in Andhra Pradesh, alleged a match-fixing agreement between the YSR Congress and the Congress.

Addressing a media conference in Hyderabad, Naidu accused Congress party of having two branch offices in Hyderabad – the headquarters of YSR Congress and the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS). There has been speculation about a potential merger between the Congress and the TRS in the event Telangana is formed.

“In 2014, if Telangana is formed, Congress would certainly be in a winning position in Telangana region if it aligns with the TRS and has some kind of tacit understanding with YSR Congress in rest of Andhra (Pradesh). It will be in an advantageous position,” sajd K.C. Suri, a political science professor at University of Hyderabad. “That is the electoral strategy of the Congress.”

P.C. Chacko, a spokesperson for the Congress party, dismissed reports of a pre-election deal between Congress and Jagan Reddy. “It’s a court decision,” he told regional news channel TV9, decloining to comment when asked about the possibility of YSR Congress and Congress joining hands.

The move could also push TDP closer to the Bharatiya Janata Party, whose prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi extended a hand of friendship to TDP leadership on a recent visit to Hyderbad.

In Haryana, meanwhile, Congress MP Rao Inderjit Singh, a vocal critic of the Congress-led state government, resigned and said he wouldn’t fight for reelection on a Congress ticket, said two people familiar with the development. Singh did not respond to calls made to his mobile phone.

Singh, member of Parliament (MP) from Gurgaon and son of former Haryana chief minister, the late Rao Birendra Singh, is the most important leader of the Yadav community in the state. “His clout in south Haryana is so strong that he can influence the electorate in at least 15-20 assembly seats,” said one of the two persons cited above.

“Both the developments are significant. In Haryana, it is a setback for the Congress and in Andhra Pradesh, talks are already on with YSR Congress. These two developments indicate swift political re-alignments also,” said N Bhaskara Rao, a political expert who has been closely following the Congress party for the last four decades. “Its advantage Jagan (Reddy) in Andhra Pradesh.”

PTI and Mint’s Anuja contributed to this story.

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First Published:24 Sep 2013, 06:36 PM IST
HomePoliticsPolicyJagan Reddy’s release likely to accelerate political realignments

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