Notwithstanding the Congress high command's call for restraint till the period of mourning for YS Rajasekhara Reddy is over, supporters of his son YS Jaganmohan Reddy on Sunday openly demonstrated their demand for making him the next Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh.
The emotional outpouring of their demand apparently in a bid to put pressure on the Congress leadership was made at the end of a condolence meeting for Rajasekhara Reddy organised by the state PCC at its headquarters here in the presence of interim Chief Minister K Rosaiah, PCC President D Srinivas, Union Minister S Jaipal Reddy and a couple of YSR detractors V Hanumant Rao and K Kesava Rao.
A majority of the crowd assembled at the meeting, most of them young supporters of Jaganmohan including women, waited for the condolence resolution to be adopted and observance of the customary 2-minute silence in memory of the departed to break out into a spontaneous shouting in favour of the late leader's son's ascension to the Chief Minister's post.
"We want Jagan," shouted the supporters who carried pictures of Jaganmohan and that of his late father Rajasekhara
Jaganmohan himself was not present on the occasion. He had just arrived in Hyderabad from Idupulapaya, two days after last rites for his late father.
Appeals to Jaganmohan's supporters to be calm since it was supposed to be a silent mourning fell on their deaf ears
as the shouting reached a crescendo.
"VHR go back" was one of the posters, which was an obvious reference to Rajya Sabha member V Hanumant Rao, who had yesterday criticised the comparison of Jaganmohan to Rajiv Gandhi who had taken over as Prime Minister after Indira Gandhi's assassination.
As the sloganeering continued, the leaders assembled on the stage quietly left the auditorium. Hanumant Rao and Kesava Rao, another Rajya Sabha member, who had also criticised attempts at "dynastic succession", left along with other leaders.
As the situation looked going out of control, K V P Ramachandra Rao, Rajya Sabha member who was adviser of YSR, took the mike to appeal for calm. This also did not calm Jaganmohan's supporters and Ramachandra Rao burst into tears invoking the memory of Rajasekhara Reddy and said his soul would rest in peace only if they remain calm.
He said Congress President Sonia Gandhi was fully aware of YSR's popularity with the masses and the support enjoyed by Jaganmohan with YSR supporters and Congress workers.
As the restive supporters of Jaganmohan started listening to him, he appealed to them to observe a two-minute silence which they heeded. But the moment it was over, the crowd again resumed slogan shouting at which the meeting dispersed.
Yesterday the Congress high command had counselled supporters of Jaganmohan, including ruling party's chief whip in the assembly Mallu Batti Vikramarka, to cancel a meeting of MLAs to demonstrate their demand for making the late leader's son the next Chief Minister.
Union Law Minister and Congress party in-charge of Andhra Pradesh M Veerappa Moiley said yesterday that the party would not apply its mind on the succession issue till the mourning period is over.
Earlier at the meeting, condolence messages hailing the leadership of Rajasekhara Reddy were read out. The resolution adopted at the meeting also hailed him as a mass leader who had worked tirelessly for the poor through welfare schemes, including those for women and irrigation projects. A message from the Dalai Lama condoling the death was also read out.