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Jagan & the Reddy factor

delhi Updated: Sep 05, 2009 01:01 IST
Vinod Sharma

Sympathy, yes, but that isn’t perhaps the sole guiding sentiment behind the rising crescendo for YS Rajasekhara Reddy’s son YS Jagan Mohan’s installation as Chief Minister. There are those ubiquitous caste allegiances, internecine business interests with umbilical lines to power.

The rush for Jagan Mohan’s anointment — even before the patriarch could be laid to rest — looked unseemly. But that’s the ruthless nature of Andhra politics. Legislators there aren’t ordinary mortals. They are moneyed mortals, especially the Reddys.

The community’s legislative clout far outstrips its modest six per cent vote share: 56 of the 155 legislators and 11 of 33 Andhra MPs bear the Reddy surname. “They cannot forgo the CM’s gaddi (chair),” said a politically savvy official with contacts in the Congress and Chandrababu Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party (TDP). “YSR unabashedly promoted his clansmen. Their loyalty to his family is linked as much to his mass appeal as to his patronage and largess.”

YSR’s was a career built over three decades. He was a doer, a go-getter who mastered realpolitik like none among his peers. In contrast, Jagan Mohan, first-time MP from the family bastion of Cuddapah, is a greenhorn. What then makes him click with party legislators?

“He’s after all his father’s son. A successful industrialist and media baron, he’ll protect the political and business interests of YSR’s supporters,” said a Congress leader. With the passage of time, the younger Reddy could pose a more formidable challenge to the TDP than jaded old Congressmen.

Some of them are honest but incompetent. Others are efficient but without a clean image. Neither category boasts of the former CM’s public connect that twice led the party to power.

“The YSR brotherhood is too strong for any outsider to get in,” said a backward caste legislator. YSR dwarfed his peers across the political spectrum. Such was his drawing capacity that even Naidu had problems keeping his flock together.

Doubts, if any, about his legacy stand quelled by the overwhelming display of public grief. In the hysteria accentuated by reports of suicides, the Congress high command has just two options: buy time by letting K Rosaiah continue as caretaker CM or put Jagan Mohan in his father’s seat.

That’ll satisfy the millionaires’ club in the House as also the dispossessed millions to reach whom YSR brooked no hurdles — not even a two-hour chopper ride in stormy weather over dense forests where he met his end.