Thursday, September 2, 2010
Post YSR, the road ahead for Cong looks tough
A year has gone by since the death of one of the most popular leaders Andhra Pradesh has seen. While the state of Andhra Pradesh observes the death of Dr Y S Rajashekhar Reddy, the road ahead for the Congress obviously appears to be tough.
It was a roller coaster ride for the Congress until Dr YSR passed away say political observers. Just months after his death, the Congress was faced with two major problems and is still coming to terms with it- the Telangana issue and Jagan Mohan Reddy. Political observers point out to rediff.com that these are two issues which will continue to haunt the Congress unless it puts its act together.
The Telangana issue was the first set back for the Congress and just a few months after the death of YSR, the issue was on the boil and the state saw one of its worst agitations ever. YSR loyalists say that the leader managed to strike the right chord with the people of Telangana and over a period of time he had managed to keep the people quiet. He did devote a lot of funds for this region and despite not living up to his promise of granting a separate state in the 2004 elections, he still managed to win 50 of the 110 seats in the Telangana region alone. In the 2004 polls he had tied up with the Telangana Rastriya Samithi and had promised them of a separate state. However he backed out and despite this he managed to win a large number of seats in this region while the TRS was left with just 10 seats in 2009.
The Congress in AP however claim that the issue would have been controlled if not for a very irresponsible statement by Home Minister, P Chidambaram. That statement of his gave the people hope and once the union government did a turn around, it angered the people even more. Moreover the state lost Rs 100 crore every day for three months thanks to this agitation.
In Andhra Pradesh even after a year, it is quite evident that many in the state have not yet come to terms with this loss. After a long time the state had seen a mass leader in YSR and the current leadership does not appeal to the people who tend to hero worship and idolize their leaders.
It is very clear that that YSR’s son the 39 year old Jagan Mohan Reddy made a serious attempt to capitalize on the popularity of his late father. Political observers say that it is not the Telangana issue, but the division in the Congress which is the major worry for the party.
If one looks at the manner in which events have unfolded, it is evident there is a division. Jagan has defied the high command on every occasion and MLAs who would have thought a million times before speaking against YSR have now started to allege corruption by the family.
The road ahead for the Congress is clearly not an easy one and Jagan Reddy has no intentions of making it easy for them. GVL Rao, a political observer says that the Congress today realizes that the roller coaster ride for the party after the death of YSR is over. YSR led a one man show all the way and he had earned the trust of the Central leadership. He managed to strike the right chord with the first family of the party by naming every project after either Indira or Rajiv. Moreover he had impressed the party by winning both the 2004 and 2009 polls single handedly.
YSR had completely transformed himself. From being a perennial dissident 20 years back and from throwing chappals at P V Narasimha Rao, he became a darling of the party when he took over as the Chief Minister. This is something remarkable and that transformation was quite a surprise.
Now with YSR no more, the Congress has a road of thorns ahead and faces a lot of crisis situations. The Telangana issue is still in their minds and is expected to return in a couple of months.
Speaking of Dr Y S R, the Congress has not really been used to a phenomenon such as this one. They have many faceless Chief Ministers in the past, but YSR had managed to build a brand and create an aura about himself in the state. There is no doubt that he enjoyed a large support base which comprised both genuine and orchestrated ones.
The Congress is well aware that it cannot do away with the Jagan issue so easily. When Jagan sought the post of the CM, the Congress was clear that it would want him to wait like how Rahul Gandhi is doing. Moreover they were worried about the emergence of a mass leader who would take Rahul on directly at least in parts of Southern India.
However Jagan’s instincts were different and he reacted the same way his father did 20 years back. The Congress obviously wanted him to be more mature in his approach and they felt that he should show the same maturity that his father did when he took over as Chief Minister.
For Jagan to break the Congress at this point of time is very difficult. There is no doubt that he enjoys the support of many MLAs who his father had handpicked, but the question is that whether they are ready to forgo their leadership when there is a good 3 years remaining for the next elections. These were the same MLAs who had supported Jagan in the beginning, but today they appear to be on the fence since these persons do not want to lose power.
Today it is a matter of who will blink first. Jagan certainly is a brand, but at any cost would not move away from the Congress. Floating a new party is not advisable and there is no question of him either aligning with the TDP since he will project himself as an alternate to that party. Also the caste factor will keep him away from the TDP. The PRP on the other hand is a non-existent force and he is aware that tie up with that party is of no use to him. Jagan wants to be the real Congress of AP and would want to bull doze the central leadership to hand over power to him. He may have gone a bit silent today, but that wont be for too long since he would not want to be marginalized.
The Congress too on the other hand wont take any hasty decision. They realize the importance of Andhra Pradesh since it has done wonders to them number wise and for any future government in the centre, AP will be crucial. If the Congress breaks Jagan, then they may run the risk of being reduced to ten seats in AP.
The Congress realizes this problem and would wait for Jagan to blink first. Jagan on the other hand realizes that he has an upper hand in this issue and is also confident that the high command would blink since they were unable to do anything to him when he defied Sonia Gandhi and went ahead with the rally.
In the months to come the Congress will try and enter into a dialogue with Jagan and offer him some position that would meet with his expectation. They would do everything to ensure that he does not emerge into a super power since he has a legacy, personal clout, media power and a lot of financial backing.
Will the high command stomach the insult meted out by Jagan to them, will they bite the dust or will they counter him and set up a recipe for disaster is something that only time will tell.