Jagan's yatra raises political heat in AP

Fuelling the atmosphere is a rebellious young MP from Kadapa, Y S Jaganmohan Reddy, who has virtually thrown a challenge at the Congress high command over the continuation of his "Odarpu Yatra" (tour to console people) from July 8.

Jagan's yatra has come to occupy the centre stage of the state's political theatre even as the by-elections promise a different drama.

Whether or not Jagan's act will culminate in an anti-climax is a much-talked about and curiously observed subject as the late Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy's son is bracing for a face-off with the Congress leadership.

Any negative outcome of this showdown (for Jagan camp) is certain to cast a spell on Congress government in Andhra, currently headed by Chief Minister K Rosaiah. And, just days ahead of by-elections in Telangana, any further trouble in the party could be ominous for Congress, political analysts point out.

After announcing resumption of his 'Odarpu Yatra' with much bravado, Jagan has reached a spot from where he cannot go back. Neither can he march ahead with his plans by jumping the "danger" signal flashed on by party high command.

"If Jagan indeed jumps the 'red signal', he may face the Congress high command's music. This could lead to many MLAs, most of them elected for the first time, walking out of the party in solidarity with the first-time MP. This may only be an extreme situation," a senior Congress leader here said.

Given the fragile strength it has in the State Assembly, a split in the party could spell doom for Congress. The principal opposition Telugu Desam Party will be eager to cash-in on such a situation as it hopes to re-emerge as a formidable force in the state.

The by-elections in Telangana could be the stage for the TDP to showcase its might, given the strong base it enjoys in the region. Majority of the ten Assembly constituencies, which were held by Telangana Rashtra Samiti in 2009, were infact strongholds of the TDP.

But the TDP conceded them to the TRS as part of the Grand Alliance, thereby losing its strength. Now, the TDP is keen on winning them back. For the Congress winning even one seat in the by-elections will be a "bonus".

However, there is a lot at stake for the Congress as it has fielded some heavyweights in half-a-dozen segments.

Beginning with Andhra Pradesh Congress Committee president D Srinivas – who is openly claiming that he will become Deputy Chief Minister or even a rank higher if elected from Nizamabad Urban constituency – former ministers like Md Ali Shabbir, J Ratnakar Rao, G Vinod and former MP Indrakaran Reddy are in the by-election fray.

The separatist TRS, however, is confident of a "cake walk" in all the 11 Assembly segments it is contesting in. It is supporting BJP in Nizamabad Urban as the latter's Y Lakshminarayana too resigned from the MLA's post along with the TRS legislators over the separate statehood issue in February this year.

The TRS is banking solely on the "Telangana sentiment" which, it feels, will make "Congress and TDP bite the dust for betraying the people of the region."

There is talk in political circles here that a section of pro-Telangana Congress leaders may extend tacit support to the TRS to enable it win the by-polls only to project that the Telangana sentiment remains strong.

It will be a big blow to the TRS as well as the other separatist elements if the former loses even a couple of seats out of the ten it previously held. The pro-Telangana forces would want to ensure that there will not be a repeat of 2008 when the TRS was reduced from 26 to just seven after having forced by-elections on the statehood issue.

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