Feeling sidelined in the Congress, the late Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy
had once toyed with the idea of floating a regional party. But his
son Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy made it a reality and, within a year and
a half, developed it into a major force in Andhra Pradesh
From behind the bars of Chanchalguda Central Jail, where he is
lodged in a case of suspected corruption involving amassing of
illegal assets, the 40-year-old founder of YSR Congress Party (YSRCP)
took on both the ruling Congress and the opposition Telugu Desam
Party (TDP), sending alarm bells ringing in the rival camps ahead
of 2014 assembly elections.
The fledgling party stunned the old rivals and even surprised
political pundits by making a near clean sweep of the by-elections
to one Lok Sabha and 18 assembly seats.
The victory of YSRCP by nearly 300,000 votes in Nellore Lok Sabha
constituency and with massive majority in 15 assembly segments
can't just be dismissed as sympathy wave in the wake of Jagan's
arrest a few days before.
Its performance was unparalleled considering the fact that unlike
Congress and TDP, Jagan's party is yet to have an organised cadre
at the grass-root level.
The Congress, which enjoys only a slender majority of six in the
294-member assembly, is already worried that an aggressive Jagan
may go for a kill by triggering an exodus from the party.
On the other hand, the TDP, which drew a blank, appears to be in
panic over losing the ground to a party, whose rapid extinction
its chief Chandrababu Naidu predicted only a few days ago.
Political observers say Jagan used his cards well to take full
political mileage from his arrest by the CBI during the election
campaign. His mother Y.S. Vijayamma and sister Sharmila succeeded
in convincing people that Congress and TDP colluded to send Jagan
"Public sympathy may have played some role but it was not the only
factor. Unmindful of the ridicule his 'odarpu yatra' evoked from
his political rivals, Jagan has been working silently for more
than two years to build a base," said a political observer.
One of the richest politicians in India, Jagan developed a chord
with people by visiting remote villages, going into huts to meet
poor, and eating with them. Greeting people with folded hands,
shaking hands with every one -- all his gestures touched the
When YSR died on Sep 2, 2009, Jagan was only a four-month-old MP.
His inexperience was one of the reasons for Congress leadership
rejecting his reported claim to succeed his father as chief
Aware of the powerful YSR factor which lifted Congress to power in
2004 and 2009, Jagan embarked on the 'odarpu yatra' to console
families of those who died of shock or committed suicide after
YSR's death, further angering the Congress leadership.
Encouraged by the massive public response he received, Jagan
realised that he could cash on the YSR factor to take on Congress
Accusing the leadership of humiliating their family, Jagan and
Vijayamma quit the party in November 2010 and in March 2011,
floated Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress (the party of youth,
workers and farmers). Its acronym matched with the initials of
Jagan's popular father.
Two months later, Jagan and his mother scored landslide wins from
Kadapa Lok Sabha and Pulivendula assembly seats respectively. The
critics dismissed this too as a result of public sympathy for YSR
family in their own strongholds.
However, the young leader kept Congress leadership on their toes
with threats to the government, after 29 legislators including 26
of the Congress resigned in his support.
When the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) grilled him for
three days before his arrest last month, Jagan mocked the Congress
by taking one of its MPs and two state legislators to the CBI
After Jagan's arrest, the two legislators resigned from the party
and the assembly while two others called on Vijayamma to express
solidarity. Some more are believed to be in touch with YSRCP.
Both Congress and TDP are still in a dilemma whether a Jagan in
jail is more dangerous for them than a Jagan outside the jail. The
dilemma is double for Congress, who has no clues on how to tackle
Jagan without targeting YSR as the CBI see the father-son criminal
conspiracy behind Jagan amassing illegal wealth.
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