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Congress struggles with Andhra sonrise

india Updated: Sep 07, 2009 02:28 IST
Prasad Nichenametla
Prasad Nichenametla
Hindustan Times
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Supporters of Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy are going for broke. They disrupted a meeting called at the party office here to condole the death of Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy and nearly prevented an interim administration from taking charge.

They want Jagan Mohan named successor of YSR, as Rajasekhara Reddy was widely known, without delay.

The Congress will sort out the leadership issue after the seven-day mourning period. K. Rosaiah will be chief minister till then.

But Jagan Mohan’s supporters are getting restless. The Congress leadership in Delhi had to send senior official Digvijay Singh to force the hotheads among Jagan Mohan loyalists to fall in line.

Factionalism that had nearly finished the Congress in Andhra before YSR took charge is threatening to return within days of his death on September 3 when his helicopter crashed against a hill, killing all its five occupants.

At least seven ministers of the YSR cabinet were reluctant to go through the formality of being sworn in again under Rosaiah. They refused to show up till the leadership intervened.

Then came a statement from Jagan Mohan, ostensibly asking for an end to the campaign. But it was also contained a thinly veiled claim to be named successor.

“Our high command knows and more particularly our beloved leader Smt. Sonia Gandhi respects the public perception and feelings of lakhs of Congress party workers, and she knows too well what is good for all of us and what is good for our state and people.”

His supporters are being more direct.

They disrupted the condolence meeting, prevented Pradesh Congress Committee chief Dharmapuri Srinivas — said to be opposed to YSR and also an aspirant for the post of chief minister – from reading out his message.

And they refused to listen even to Y.S. Vivekananada Reddy (YSR’s brother and former MP). Shortly, Srinivas, Rosaiah, Union minister S. Jaipal Reddy, and other senior leaders left.

“(It might look in bad taste) but we should also understand the agony of these youth who want Jagan Mohan to lead them and the state,” D. Sridhar Babu, minister for higher education told Hindustan Times.

So, they all showed up for the swearing-in ceremony, but stopped on the way at YSR’s camp office, to meet Jagan Mohan and promise him their support. (With inputs from Aurangzeb Naqshbandi)