Long walk to power: Jagan eyes tested path in AP, to cover 3000 km in 6 months
The father walked 1,500km in summer of 2003 to wrest power in Andhra Pradesh the next year, the son is setting out to do 3,000km, starting in the winter of 2017, eyeing his own success story.
If YS Jaganmohan Reddy, president of the YSR (Yuvajana Sramika Rythu) Congress Party, completes the 3,000-km padayatra (foot march) he is scheduled to start on November 6, it will be the longest walkathon by a politician in the state.
Jagan intends to do his Praja Sankalpa Yatra (People’s vow march) in six months. If he finishes it, he will beat a 2,800-km foot march record Telugu Desam Party (TDP) president and chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu set in 2013.
Naidu’s record ‘Vasthunna Mee Kosam’ (I am coming to you) foot march over 108 days helped him return to power in the state after a gap of 10 years in 2014. He had lost power in 2004 to Jagan’s father, YS Rajasekhara Reddy (popularly known as YSR).
Incidentally, YSR had ended Naidu’s two-term stint as CM after his 2003 ‘Praja Prasthanam’ (People’s march) padayatra.
Jagan is taking a leaf out his father’s playbook. YSR, who died in a helicopter crash in 2009, used to go for darshans of Lord Venkateshwara of Tirumala in Chittoor district, setting aside his faith in Christianity. Jagan went to the temple on Saturday.
After a darshan in the early hours, he took the blessing of Vedic pundits at Ranganayakula Mandapam within the temple premises.
Jagan has been visiting temples frequently in the last couple of years. Rivals allege that his temple visits are engineered with an eye on assembly elections due in 2019. Jagan’s supporters, however, insist this is a true representation of his secular credentials.
From Tirumala, Jagan will head for his family estate at Idupulapaya in Kadapa district, from where he will start his walkathon after paying respects at YSR’s memorial.
In the next six months, Jagan intends to cover 125 assembly constituencies on foot, address 5,000 street corner meetings, hold 180 meetings with influential groups, and speak at 125 public meetings.
His walkathon is scheduled to end at Ichapuram in Srikakulam district in May 2018.
“On an average, he will walk for 15-16 km every day and meet all sections of people. Our objective is to see that Jagan will have direct interaction with nearly two crore people during the padayatra,” said YV Subba Reddy, YSR Congress Party’s Lok Sabha member from Ongole constituency.
Jagan has engaged political strategist Prashant Kishor as his adviser to ensure his party’s victory in the 2019 assembly elections. Kishor’s team, Indian Political Action Committee (IPAC), is working on building up Jagan as a popular political brand during the padayatra.
The IPAC has coined a slogan — ‘Raavali Jagan, Kaavali Jagan’ (want Jagan to come, need Jagan for prosperity) — as a hallmark of his padayatra. “We are planning to take this slogan strongly to people during the walkathon,” said an IPAC member who did not want to be named.
However, Jagan will have to take break from his walkathon for at least a day every week. He has to return to Hyderabad every Friday to attend a court hearing in a case against him for allegedly accumulating disproportionate assets.
Jagan resigned from the Congress in November 2010 and founded his party in March a year later.
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