A worried Sonia Gandhi conferred with senior Congress leaders to review the situation in the backdrop of a massive rescue operation launched to find Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy.
Union Ministers Pranab Mukherjee and A.K. Antony and Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel were present at the meeting
“Today we’re very sad about Rajasekhara Reddy’s incident. Till now, there is no trace. I have spoken to the Andhra finance minister and other senior ministers there. It is very sad,” Mukherjee said after the meeting.
Gandhi also rushed Union ministers Veerapppa Moily and Prithviraj Chavan to Hyderabad. Moily is the Congress leader in charge of Andhra, while Chavan is a party general secretary and represents the Prime Minister’s Office.
In a day of hectic consultations, Gandhi also got an update on the search operation from Home Minister P. Chidambaram. She also spoke to Reddy’s son Jagan Mohan, who is a Lok Sabha member.
“The Congress president is concerned and seized of the situation,” said party spokesperson Manish Tewari.
The Prime Minister and Gandhi were monitoring the situation, said another Congress functionary who did not want to be named.
Gandhi has been receiving updates from various quarters, including ministers and the state unit.
Gandhi has no plan yet to go to Hyderabad. But the mood in the Congress headquarters and Gandhi’s 10 Janpath residence turned increasingly sombre as the hours passed by while the search operations failed to yield any result.
But the party maintained a stoic silence over the fate of Reddy praying for a miracle.
“We’re doing everything possible to bring about a constructive solution to the crisis,” said Tewari.
Reddy, or YSR, as he is popularly known, had played a key role in the Congress coming to power at the Centre in 2004 and 2009 when Andhra Pradesh, under his leadership, contributed 29 and 33 Lok Sabha seats.
He also led the Congress victory in the state assembly elections on both occasions.
State Finance Minister K. Rosaiah in the meanwhile has been filling in as seniormost member and the Number 2 in the YSR cabinet.