After 14 months of defiance and rebellion, Jaganmohan Reddy, son of the late Andhra Pradesh chief minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy (YSR), on Monday walked out of the Congress and resigned as MP from Kadappa.
"I have been suffering humiliation," he wrote in his resignation letter to Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
For the Congress, already under Opposition attack over corruption charges, a new crisis in Andhra — which elected 33 party MPs in 2009 — is ill-timed. Jagan, however, said he did not want to destabilise the government of chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy, who took over just five days ago.
With 156 MLAs in the 294-strong Andhra assembly, the Congress has a slender majority and en masse resignations by the 30-40 MLAs believed to be backing the Kadappa MP could rock the government.
Jagan is expected to announce the formation of a new party as early as Tuesday and next month restart a yatra he'd suspended.
"None at all," Congress spokesperson Manish Tiwari said, on the impact Jagan's exit could have on the party.
Ever since the party turned down his claim to become chief minister following YSR's death in a helicopter crash on September 2 last year, Jagan has been charting his own course.
The Congress high command gave him a long rope, refusing to act even after Sakshi, the TV channel owned by him, mounted an offensive against Sonia and general secretary Rahul Gandhi last week.
Jagan quit as he interpreted the appointment of Kiran Reddy as chief minister as an attempt by the party high command to marginalise him, an aide said.
Jagan alleged in his resignation letter that Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad orchestrated a split in his family by enticing his uncle to back the new CM.
There have also been indications that the new cabinet won't have many of his supporters.
In the evening, Jagan took a train to Kadappa where he will visit his father's grave on Tuesday, before announcing his next move.
His supporters took to the streets, attacking Congress offices across of state and making bonfires of Sonia's pictures.
However, Jagan has told his supporters among the MLAs — he is in touch with at least 40 of them — to remain in the party.
If they quit and face fresh elections, they may not return. Secondly, he wants the party to expel them — so they can retain their assembly membership. Some MPs are also in touch with him.
Congress sources said the party is talking to Chiranjeevi, leader of the Praja Rajyam Party, which has 18 MLAs, for support if Jagan's supporters withdraw support.
In Delhi, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar said she would examine Jagan's resignation letter before taking a decision. She is likely to seek his physical presence to authenticate his signature.