New Delhi: As far as the Congress is concerned, Jaganmohan Reddy’s intentions are anything but honourable.
At a rally in Delhi today, where he’s on a hunger strike, Jagan Mohan was accompanied by 24 Congress leaders from Andhra Pradesh – 20 MLAs, two members of legislative councils, and two MPs.
Jagan quit the Congress last month after a 14-month long rebellion that began when his father, YSR Reddy, died in a helicopter crash, and this party did not pick Jagan to replace him.
Today’s public show of support by Congress leaders, Jagan says, is a precursor to a more formal bond. “I am a gentleman,” he said. “And I’m doing the Congress a favour by not asking my people to resign. If I wanted to, I could’ve done that a long time back. The government would’ve fallen. But my people are very clear that in 2014, they will contest not on a Congress ticket but on my party’s ticket.”
Jagan has announced that he is setting up his own party, named after his father, who was legendary in Andhra Pradesh for his popularity among voters.
Jagan’s fast today was officially to protest against what he describes as the “injustice” delivered to Andhra’s farmers by a recent verdict on the waters of the River Krishna. But the not-so-secret agenda was to taunt the Congress on its own turf by highlighting that Jagan is now a credible political opponent.
The Congress party reacted by stating that “our government is not under any threat.” That did not help save face. Especially as its flock voiced opinions far more freely than the party presumably prefers. Jai Sudha, a Congress MLA from Secundarabad, said, “YSR was my mentor. I’ve always been his follower and so it goes without saying that I will follow Jagan. I respect the Congress and Sonia ji but I will always follow Jagan.” She added, “If the party initiates disciplinary action, we’re prepared.”