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Jagan Stands Alone

With the Congress high command tightening the noose around his loyalists and announcing Rs 1 lakh ex gratia for the families of those who reportedly died of shock due to YSR’s death,Jaganmohan Reddy is cornered.

Written by Sreenivas Janyala | Hyderabad |
September 8, 2010 3:46:30 am

Defiant Kadapa MP Y S Jaganmohan Reddy is being given a long rope by the Congress high command,but his loyal friends are finding themselves in trouble. As a result,Jagan is lately seeing that his ‘loyalists’ are fast disappearing from his side.

Hoping that the young MP will mend his ways,the party,on one hand,is sending him soft signals while tightening the noose around his supporters. The strategy is having its effect. On the fourth day of the third leg of Odarpu Yatra in Prakasam district,Jaganmohan suddenly found that he had no friends. The welcoming crowds were there but Jaganmohan’s political strength had been sapped with MLAs and MPs,who swore loyalty and support a few days ago,doing the disappearing act.

Prakasam district is a stronghold of the Congress — it has 10 MLAs in the 12 Assembly constituencies in the district,including Minister for Mines Balineni Srinivas Reddy,who represents Ongole. Since the past two days,except for Srinivas Reddy,no one has turned up to join Jaganmohan on his tour. MLA from Darsi B Sivaprasad Reddy made a brief appearance. The two MPs from the district,Minister of State for Textiles Panabaka Lakshmi (Bapatla) and M Srinivasulu Reddy (Ongole) have already distanced themselves from Jaganmohan. In all,eight Congress MLAs,two MPs and two Members of Legislative Council from Prakasam district have decided to stay away from Jaganmohan’s yatra.

Reacting on Monday at Pamuru village in Kanigiri,Jaganmohan blamed “some newspapers” for saying that he was alone. “With all of you with me,am I alone?” he asked the crowd.

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It was very different in the first two phases of the yatra when all MLAs and MPs from the district in which Jaganmohan was touring at that time were seen accompanying him,defying instructions from the party not to join Jaganmohan.

The first person to find himself in trouble was Pradesh Congress Committee general secretary Ambati Rambabu who was accused of acting like a personal spokesperson for Jaganmohan. Rambabu was warned for openly supporting Jaganmohan and making announcements about yatra schedules. The party high command issued a show-cause notice on July 17 to him for his utterances against Chief Minister K Rosaiah whom he had accused of obstructing the yatra. Though the notice gave him two weeks to reply,he was suspended the very next day.

“Jaganmohan’s supporters were confident that he would take up Rambabu’s cause with the Congress high command and do something drastic. Instead,Jaganmohan just said he felt hurt and left it at that. This left his loyalists wondering if it was worthy to displease the party if he would not fight on their behalf,” said political analyst Venkat Rao.

The party further tightened the noose around Rambabu with the incumbent chairman of AP Industrial Infrastructure Corporation (APIIC) raising questions over certain land deals made by the APIIC when Rambabu was its chairman. Incumbent APIIC chairman S Sivarama Subrahmanyam said irregularities were found during the tenure of Rambabu and the main deal under the scanner was the allotment of 553 acres to Dubai-based Emaar Group. With Rosaiah thinking aloud about a CBI probe,Rambabu decided to lie low.

The second blow to Jaganmohan came through unexpected quarters. During the Assembly session in July,the Left parties questioned mining leases given in Khammam district to Rakshana Steels,a company supplying iron ore in a joint venture with AP Mineral Development Corporation (APMDC),which is allegedly promoted by YSR’s evangelist son-in-law Anil Kumar. Jaganmohan’s supporters believe a few Congress leaders prompted the CPI to raise the issue which would give the government a handle against Jaganmohan. TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu took over from there and alleged on the floor of the House that the state government gave 1.40 lakh acres to Rakshana Steels last February because it belonged to YSR’s son-in-law. The APMDC had entered into an MOU with Rakshana Steels for mining in the area. Rakshana’s chief executive officer S S Vedantam issued a statement that Brother Anil Kumar was neither a director nor associated in any way with the company.

But the furore continued in the Assembly. Rosaiah let the storm over the allegations build-up and brought it to the notice of the Centre. On August 26,even as Jaganmohan was finalising his Prakasam district tour,the Union Ministry of Mines cancelled its approval given to the APMDC-Rakshna Steels joint venture for exploration of iron ore in Bayyaram. The cancellation of the mining lease,based on allegations that his brother-in-law was involved in Rakshana Steels,was another serious warning to Jaganmohan,and an indication of things to come.

“The message was not lost on his loyalists,including district-level Congress leaders,MLAs and MPs who were planning to join him on his tour. Earlier,they fell over each other to express support to accompany Jaganmohan,but now they seem to have changed their minds,” said an APCC leader.

Many Congress MLAs who claimed that they owed their political careers to Y S Rajasekhara Reddy and thus,are loyal to his son,are singing a different tune now. On Monday,Jaganmohan reached Kanigiri in Prakasam district,but local Congress MLA U Narasimha Reddy stayed away saying it was Rahul Gandhi who nominated him as a candidate,so he will not defy the high command.

The Congress has announced that in genuine cases where people reportedly died of shock due to YSR’s death,it would pay ex gratia of Rs 1 lakh to each family. This has called Jaganmohan’s bluff that touring the state was necessary to meet the families. Jaganmohan who had been keeping mum was forced to give a statement that his yatra was not related to financial help but to condole the families. The Jagan camp is now on the defensive,as it realises that the high command is leaving no stone unturned to corner him.

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