The shrill campaign to install Y S Rajasekhara Reddy’s son Jagan Mohan Reddy, 36, as the new chief minister of Andhra Pradesh went partially underground on Saturday, following media criticism of the unseemly haste with which it was launched and a perceived cold shoulder from the party high command.
“This is not the right time. We’ll decide on the issue only after the mourning period ends (on September 9),” said law minister Veerappa Moily who was sent by the Congress leadership to oversee the political situation in Andhra Pradesh after Reddy’s death.
Result: Congress MLAs who were due to assemble in the state assembly to press their “Jagan for CM” demand, backtracked and denied any such plans.
“No such meeting was ever planned,” Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka, Congress chief whip in the Andhra Pradesh assembly, told HT. “We’re only assembling to pay homage to the departed leader.”
Off the record, an MLA said the meeting had been called off following “unofficial advice” from a senior leader. “The aim of the meeting was to bring everyone (read: dissenters) in line,” he said.
Jagan Mohan, meanwhile, spent the day at his family estate, participating in religious ceremonies connected to his father’s death.
But a senior Congress Rajya Sabha MP, who is orchestrating the campaign to install Jagan Mohan as chief minister, hasn’t given up yet.
Thirty-three of 54 Congress Members of the Legislative Council (upper house in some states) passed a “unanimous” resolution backing Jagan Mohan.
Mohammad Jani, deputy chairman of the council, said 20 other MLCs “could not attend the meeting as they were travelling, but gave their consent over telephone”. This resolution will be conveyed to the high command.
Meanwhile, citizens mounted pressure on television channels, which have been fanning the mood of gloom by playing sad songs, to change tack.
A senior employee in Andhra Pradesh’s leading regional news channel said, “On Friday, we received a number of calls, emails and SMSes from viewers requesting us to stop playing these emotional songs.”
Some people have blamed the melancholic atmosphere being created by these broadcasts for the spate of alleged suicides that have been reported from across the state following Reddy’s death.
“But doctors and psychiatrists said songs, which can alter people’s moods, cannot force them to commit suicide or die of grief,” he said. “So, our solution to this problem is: ‘Just watch television on mute.’”