Jagan flexes muscles, hints at mid-term polls in Andhra

Buoyed by the support of over two dozen legislators, two MPs, several former ministers and leaders of the ruling party, the young leader put the government on notice while breaking his 48-hour hunger strike to demand a better deal for farmers.

Terming the government as "anti-farmers", the son of late chief minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy said it may have to go before the next scheduled elections.

"There are three more years for the elections but this government may lose the deposit much before that," he said, amid speculation that his loyalists may pull out of the party and cause a snap election.

Addressing over 100,000 farmers and supporters on the banks of Krishna, the former Kadapa MP accused the government of dumping the pro-farmer policies of YSR who led the Congress twice to power in the state.

Stating that 'laksha deeksha' (fast by one lakh people) was only the beginning, Jagan, as the young leader is popularly known, said there would be many more such protests in the coming days.

Jagan said 126 farmers had committed suicide in 16 days due to the huge crop loss in recent rains. Accusing the government of failure to come to the rescue of farmers, he pointed out that 84 farmers ended their lives after Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy announced the so-called package.

Jagan, who accepted lemon juice from a farmer to break his 48-hour fast, did not spare former chief minister and Telugu Desam Party chief N. Chandrababu Naidu, whose indefinite fast demanding a relief package for farmers entered the seventh day Thursday.
Jagan said Naidu and the Congress government had colluded to deny the farmers a fair deal.

He recalled how Naidu, while in power, ignored the problems of farmers, ridiculed his late father's promise of free electricity to farmers and even alleged that farmers were committing suicide so that their families could claim compensation.

"Now the same Chandrababu Naidu is saying he is on fast for farmers. Surprisingly, even after seven days of fast, his sugar and blood pressure levels remained normal," Jagan said in a sarcastic tone.

Adding to the woes of the Congress party, two more members of the legislature turned up at Jagan's fast, taking the total number of Congress legislators supporting him since Tuesday to 25.

Banking on the legacy of his father, Jagan was successful in demonstrating his strength for the first time and sending ripples in the Congress party.

The Congress has 156 members in the 294-member assembly.
Jagan resigned from the Congress and quit the Kadapa Lok Sabha seat last month, accusing the leadership of dividing his family by luring his uncle Y.S. Vivekananda with a ministerial berth in the Andhra cabinet.

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