Rebel Congress MP Jagan Mohan Reddy’s TV news channel has launched a vituperative attack on party president Sonia Gandhi, a step that spoiled further his strained relations with the organisation.
The one-hour programme, titled "Hastam Gatam" (Congress is now past), which was aired prime time on Friday night and again on Saturday, raked up various allegations/issues against Gandhi such as her Italian origin and the alleged Ottavio Quattrochi connection (in the Bofors kickback case), and blamed her for the current scams the Centre is facing.
The Sakshi TV news channel ran the story even as the Congress is celebrating the 125th anniversary of the party in the state.
"A coterie of rootless people around her (Sonia Gandhi) is ruling the roost while the party is going to the dogs," the programme commented. It did not spare Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, terming him a "rubber stamp".
"Sonia is neither the President of India nor the Prime Minister but she is dictating the politics of the country," it commented.
After his father, YS Rajsekhar Reddy, died as chief minister in a chopper crash in September last year, Jagan Mohan had launched a signature campaign to push his claim to the departed leader’s office. Subsequently he went on consolation tours to comfort those whose family members committed suicide or died of shock after YSR’s death, despite warnings from the party to desist from such an act.
Though the attack on Gandhi has caused embarrassment in the Congress, it has not surprised many.
"This kind of move by Jagan is not unexpected. But the depth to which he has gone is disgusting and condemnable," said Marri Sashidhar Reddy, MLA and senior member of the New Delhi-based National Disaster Management Authority.
"The telecast of such stories by his channel is a sign of his utter frustration," he added.
Reddy has warned the party of a "political tsunami" if it did not stop the alleged persecution of his supporters.