YSR Congress leader Jaganmohan Reddy on Monday praised Narendra Modi for his administrative skills, but added that he wished the BJP prime ministerial candidate could practice secular, all-inclusive politics.
Given that these are his first comments since being released on bail last week after spending 16 months in jail in connection with a corruption case, the praise for Modi might unnerve Congress leaders who are hopeful of forging a post-poll alliance with Jagan.
“I am secular and I commit to be secular. But I like to tell you that when it comes to Modi as an administrator I have appreciation for him,” said Jagan.
However, he obliquely pointed to Modi as using religion for political gain. “The fact is that Muslim, Christian or Hindu, we are all born once, live one life and die the same way. Then why create insecurity in minds of people who are born in other religions? Religion is a personal belief, why politicise it? What everyone needs is peace and development.”
Jagan also took potshots at Telugu Desam Party (TDP) leader Chandrababu Naidu who is reportedly considering an alliance with the BJP.
“I have not deviated from my secular stand unlike Naidu who takes U-turns,” he said.
He denied TDP allegations that he was able to secure bail because of a deal with the Congress. “If there was a deal why would I be kept in jail for 16 months?”
Asked if he would consider supporting the Congress-led UPA, Jagan said he would do what other secular parties like the JD(U) and the Communists would do.
“Don’t be in a hurry. I have my options,” he said.
Senior YSRCP leader Mysura Reddy said Jagan’s statements cannot be seen as an overture to the BJP.
“There are several regional, secular parties with whom we plan to associate,” said Reddy, echoing his leader.
During an interview to this paper in 2011, Jagan had said that he was open to all parties at the national level, “except the BJP.”
Jagan is now championing the united Andhra cause and will hold a massive rally in Hyderabad in October to demand that the state is not bifurcated.
“The Congress is dividing the state with an eye on seats and the TDP is not questioning it fearing a loss of votes,” Jagan said.