Jagan juggernaut

Kadapa MP and former Andhra Pradesh chief minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy’s son Jagan Mohan Reddy has cocked a snook at the Congress high command by launching the second phase of his Odarpu (condolence) yatra from Srikakulam. The first phase was suspended some weeks ago in the wake of violence indulged in by Telangana supporters. Jagan Mohan Reddy has claimed that the yatra has no political significance and he only wanted to console the families of those who died of shock or committed suicide after his father’s death in a helicopter crash last year. The argument is unconvincing, especially in the context of his statements and actions against state chief minister K Rosaiah and the party leadership in the last few months. Party president Sonia Gandhi had warned him against undertaking the yatra and had advised him to meet the bereaved families in one place if he wanted to make a public gesture towards them. The fact that he has ignored the advice and gone ahead with the yatra shows that he is on a collision course with the party leadership.

The yatra is meant to send out the political message that Jagan is the inheritor of his father’s legacy and the state’s chiefministership is his rightful due. Jagan joined the party only over a year ago. The party high command made Rosaiah the chief minister as he had vast experience in administration and was non-controversial. Jagan could have worked with him and gained political and administrative experience. Rosaiah will not be there to lead the party in the next election as he will be far advanced in age then. But Jagan seems to be in a hurry and wants to wrest the leadership from an unwilling high command.

In spite of the embarrassment, it may not be easy for the leadership to take action against Jagan who has openly  defied it. The yatra has received good popular response. Though the party has warned all MLAs against joining it, a sizeable number seem to be ready to support Jagan. His support has apparently dwindled from the almost entire legislature party of 150 MLAs last year to about 30 now but that is enough to pose a threat to the Rosaiah government. The party leadership cannot ignore this when it tries to deal with the challenge from the young leader.

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