After initial periods of dithering and shock, the Congress party is getting ready for a long and bloody war to put down Jagan Mohan Reddy’s rebellion and save its government in Andhra Pradesh.
The Kadappa rebel, son of late chief minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy, has resigned not only his Parliament membership, but also party membership to go to the people without any baggage.
But the Congress has a plan ready to counter his moves. It has bought an insurance policy from actor-turned-politician Chiranjeevi’s Praja Rajyam Party that has 18 MLAs and the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen with seven MLAs.
A senior Congress leader said in Delhi that even some PRP legislators could be accommodated in the yet-to-be-formed cabinet.
That with intelligence agency reports that although Jagan is in touch with 40 legislators, not more than 10 legislators and a few MPs are willing to leave the party to join him has changed the party’s mood from resignation to
“He has declared a war. We have to take him head on. He has forfeited the party’s love by consistently attacking the party and its leadership,” said a legislator, who attended a meeting convened by chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy soon after Jagan’s resignation.
Triggering a war of words in Delhi too, Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said, “The history of the party has been testimony to the fact that individuals, who have left the party, have ultimately realised that the party is bigger than them.”
Although party in-charge of the state and law minister M Veerappa Moily termed Jagan’s resignation as “most unfortunate and misguided”, general secretary Janardan Dwivedi echoed Tewari’s view: “I would like to say emphatically that the Congress is greater than individuals.”
The reason could be party men’s unwillingness to join a regional outfit unless they are forced to. Confirmed actor-turned-legislator Jaya Sudha after calling on Jagan at his residence: “I have sympathy for Jagan, no doubt. But I can’t of think of leaving the Congress party.”
The Jagan camp, however, is counting on dissidence after the cabinet formation.
“A number of ministers will be dropped and some aspirants will not make it. These people will then come to us,” said a Jagan follower.
The other issue that is bothering both the state and the Centre is Jagan’s rapidly growing financial muscle. His R9 lakh annual income in 2003-04 ballooned to more than R500 crore this year. He paid R84 crore as advance tax for the first half of 2010-11.
But it all depends on how Kiran Reddy, considered to be a close aide of YSR, balances the regional, group and caste lobbies.
“If he satisfies all major pressure groups, there is no reason why the government can’t complete its full term,” said a ministerial aspirant on condition of anonymity.
Reddy is also expected to rally his old comrades from the YSR camp and prevent them from leaving the party, besides ensuring a better delivery system for YSR’s social welfare schemes.
Tewari also dismissed Jagan’s allegations made in his five-page open later to Congress president Sonia Gandhi as “feverish”. “It is not appropriate to react to feverish imaginations.”
Jagan also faxed a brief resignation letter to Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, who is likely to seek Jagan’s physical presence to authenticate his signature on the resignation letter.