May 27, 2012

Why Congress has decided to go for Jagan’s jugular

Kingshuk Nag, TNN May 25, 2012, 01.26AM IST

HYDERABAD: The story doing the rounds is that Jagan met his uncle Vivekananda on Thursday morning and told him to carry forward the election campaign with amma since "I may be arrested".

Even as Jagan's hour of reckoning might be approaching the question is why the CBI (and by implication the government which means the Congress) would want to nab him just a fortnight before bypolls in 18 assembly seats. The arrest will lead to a groundswell in his favour and help him sweep the bye-elections. The understanding of the Congress leadership is that the party will in any case be routed in the by-elections and the YSR Congress will sweep. Hence arresting Jagan will not hurt the Congress.

However, if Jagan sweeps the bypolls, it will lead to an exodus of Congress MLAs to the YSR Congress and may create trouble for the Kiran Kumar Reddy government. It is to prevent this from happening the government has given a go ahead to the CBI to move forward full throttle.

For those who came in late, the CBI has been investigating cases against Jagan for the last few months.

Although the CBI had filed two chargesheets against him, it didn't question Jagan.

If Jagan is arrested -- and his empire dismantled -- this will go as a signal to all Congressmen planning to leave the party. With Jagan in jail, the prospects of the YSR Congress consolidating its position in the coming months will be limited.

This will give breathing space to the collapsing Congress in Andhra Pradesh to work out a new matrix before the next general elections. Andhra Pradesh sent 33 Congress MPs to the Lok Sabha in 2009 and the party's tally in 2014 will be crucial.

But rejigging the party in the state is not an easy task considering that YSR systematically destroyed all leaders in the party in the state: district level upwards and created his own team. Half the Congress MLAs in the state are first-timers loyal to the YSR family. These are the MLAs who have jumped to Jagan's camp or have been planning moves.

Many of them are linked to the YSR family by ties of relationship or business. Even if they stay back in the Congress for the time being what they will do later cannot be predicted.

The Congress in Andhra Pradesh has traditionally been run by the Reddys with Kapus and Dalits being the junior partners.

With Chiranjeevi, a Kapu merging his Prajarajyam with the Congress, his caste men are demanding a bigger share of the pie.

This is much to the discomfiture of the Reddys who feel they will be reduced to a second class status. Many aver that only Jagan can keep the Reddy flag flying.

Jagan (a Christian) has made inroads into the Dalit votes, because a significant number are Christians.

The Congress has been unable to find a matching Reddy leader - the experiment with Kiran Kumar Reddy being a non-starter. Sonia Gandhi must be ruing the day she gave a free hand to YSR.

Taking advantage of this, YSR built a Congress party that was personally loyal to him.

The loyalty has now got transferred to Jagan, who showed a thumb to the central party for the last two and half years ago. Now will the Congress be able to rise from the ashes in Andhra Pradesh? Only time will tell.

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