Making a martyr

Making a martyr

The arrest of YSR Congress leader Y S Jaganmohan Reddy by the CBI in Hyderabad has an undeniable political dimension though there are clear circumstances that warrant the pursuit of the young leader by the law enforcement agencies. The problem with law enforcement in the country is that it often gets mixed up with politics and the law is allowed to take its rightful course only when it is convenient for the powers that be. No easy explanation can be given for the increase in the declared assets of a person from over Rs 9 lakh in 2004 to about Rs 400 crore in 2012. The fact that Jagan’s father, the late Y S Rajasekhar Reddy, was the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh during much of this period and the charge that Jagan misused his father’s position to amass wealth are sufficient reasons for asking questions about the source of Jagan’s wealth. But the CBI got into the act only when it was amply clear that Jagan is irretrievably lost to the Congress and taking no action against him can only compound the party’s problems.

But it is doubtful whether the action would help the Congress politically. Jagan ironically and arguably is the most popular political leader in the state, in spite of the serious and convincing charges against him. The arrest might give him the halo of a martyr and a victim and strengthen his political standing. It is widely believed that the YSR Congress would do well in the by-elections to 18 Assembly seats and one Lok Sabha seat to be held in the next fortnight. His party has attracted leaders, MLAs and MPs from both the Congress and the main opposition Telugu Desam Party.  There is no possibility that the exodus from these parties may slow down with Jagan’s arrest.

Jagan is a symbol of an amoral and cynical political culture that is spreading and taking roots in the country. It is a combination of caste, money power, lineage, personality and scant regard for scruples. What is worrying is that this brand of politics has some popular appeal. It is equally worrying that mainstream politics fails to counter these new forces, because it also relies on the same categories in different  measures. Popularity does not whitewash a suspect past. Nor does the suborning of the rule of law to convenience bring any credit, though the legitimacy of the legal action in Jagan’s case can not be disputed.

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