From an unassuming young industrialist to one of the most promising politician in India’s southern arena, 42 year old Yeduguri Sandinti Jaganmohan (Jagan) Reddy has come a long way.
According to global search engine, Google’s latest search trends, Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy now tops the Google’s search list as the most searched politician in Andhra Pradesh. In the search numbers, he is far ahead of other Andhra politicians, TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu and TRS Boss Chandrasekhar Rao.
In fact, Jagan’s search volume from Andhra Pradesh is almost half of Narendra Modi and around two-thirds of Kejriwal in the national level.
This dependable online search result visibly shows the interest of Netizens in Jagan Reddy is growing and as far the political prominence is concerned, he is now considered at par with the biggies at national level.
Recently Jagan’s party YSR Congress has issued a statement, stating that its official Facebook page has already crossed 3 lakh likes in just 10 months.
He has sustained the might of Congress High Command, sixteen months in Jail, ran a crusade against the mighty Congress President Sonia Gandhi and subdued Chandrababu Naidu’s Party TDP…all these are not easy feats.
His popularity has grown, despite serious corruption charges filed against him by CBI, sympathy and craze for him has grown, his vote share has grown tremendously almost decimating the longest ruler of Andhra, beyond Telangana and after his phenomenal victory in Lok Sabha Poll and the following by elections, the message is now loud and clear: Jagan has arrived!
When he won the by-election to Kadapa Lok Sabha constituency with a huge margin of over five lakh votes in May 2011, Y S Vijaya, his mother also won the Pulivendula Assembly seat in the same fashion, Congress could hear the alarm bell ringing!
In June 2012, when Jagan was in jail, the YSR Congress kept alive by his mother and sister, sweeped the by-elections to 18 Assembly and 1Lok Sabha constituencies.
It had not only won 15 of the 18 Assembly seats, it had not even spared the rulling Congress party, its Nellore Lok Sabha seat.
A poster in Telegu appeared on the walls of Andhra towns and villages, carrying Jagan’s large photograph, accompanied by his father YSR, saying: “Salute to the young lion, Jagan Anna, who has shaken Delhi’s seat of power with his huge victory and gave a big jolt to Sonia Gandhi!”
It was a big writing on the wall, for the ruling Congress.
Jagan was elated. When asked by the reporters later, what he felt at that time!
He remained silent for some time and then said, “We have sustained it all. Did anyone thought about it when I left the party that I would come this far?”
The man, who started as a spoiled brat, proud and happy, had changed a lot. He has become more polite and media savvy after his father’s sudden departure and years struggle against all odds!
Sonny Dear Sonny
Jaganmohan Reddy is the only son of YS Rajasekhara Reddy, the late Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh.
After finishing his schooling from Hyderabad Public School, Begumpet, he got a Degree, Bachelor of Commerce from Osmania University in the year 1994. He was sent abroad for higher studies, but he came back later and went to Bangalore to try his hand at real estate.
He failed in real estate business and got interested in mini power projects. He collected money from his friends, acquaintances and relatives to set up two small power plants, a 1 MW project in Warangal and a 2.5 MW project in Mangalore.
Money was a major constraint with Jagan at that time and people say that after Jagan’s marriage in 1998, his wife Bharathi’s family helped him financially.
For the next four years, Jagan got associated with Lagadapati Rajagopal and his infrastructure company ‘Lanco’.Rajagopal, a two-time MP from Vijayawada was YSR’s friend and a party colleague.
YSR was not interested of Jagan joining politics. YSR knew quite well, that as a businessman, his son was feisty and determined. As a seasoned politician, he tried to keep him away from the nitty gritty of politics. Also, Jagan himself was not interested in active politics at that time. For him, politics was just the means to advance his business interests.
But when in 2004, YSR has a premonition that Congress was coming back to power, he tried to induce Jagan into the State politics. But, either the High Command was not impressed by a greenhorn like Jagan or it was too late for filing nomination papers.
Jagan missed the bus. He had other reasons to be happy. His business graph start going up in leap and bounds, once YSR became the Chief Minister in 2004. Jagan stepped into other businesses like infrastructure, cement plants and media, quickly.
With various minerals, iron ore to bauxite, limestone and granite, Andhra Pradesh accounts for over 10% of India’s mineral production.
Also land prices started skyrocketing due to growing real estate and infrastructure business in the State plus Government’s big plans to set up SEZs across the State.
The two resources were under the control of Government Machinery. YSR understood the importance of development schemes, and at the same time Jagan could find growing business opportunities.
120 plus companies were mining around 300,000 tonnes of iron ore everyday across Andhra Pradesh and neighbouring Karnataka at that time. And they always needed political connections for obvious reasons. One of such company was run by the Reddy Brothers of Bellary.
It’s alleged that during YSR’s rule various State-owned institutions were used to help private companies. The Andhra Pradesh Mineral Development Corporation, who’s then-Chairman VD Rajagopal is now charge sheeted by the CBI.
In a confidential Cable of 2007, which was released by WikiLeaks later, the US Consul General in Chennai David Hopper, wrote, how Andhra CM and his party were taking a sizable cut on every deal!
But at that time YSR was the king. It was his charismatic leadership and tenacity which brought back Congress into power mantle of Andhra Pradesh on two consecutive terms.
Not only that, it was Andhra Pradesh under YSR’s leadership which gave Congress most crucial number of Lok Sabha Seats both in 2004 and 2009, without which, perhaps, Congress would be still in the opposition!
The reluctant politician Jaganmohan joined politics at last, after YSR became the final say in Congress’s Andhra politics. Of course, he had to wait till 2009. He made his political debut by winning the Kadapa Lok Sabha constituency.
But his fate took a cruel turn, on September 2, 2009. His celebrated father died in a mysterious helicopter accident over the Nallamala forests in western Andhra Pradesh. The CM was on his way to a meeting in Chittoor to launch the newest welfare programmes. The Helicopter crashed at a distance of 15 kilometres from the nearest remote village Nalla Kaluva, in an unapproachable, marshy forest terrain.
On 4 September 2009, YSR was buried at Idupulapaya near his hometown Pulivendula. Thousands of people flocked to the remote village to pay their last homage to the departed leader.
It was the day of Jagamohan’s rebirth as a politician!
On 3 September, hours after YSR’s his body was found, Andhra Pradesh Congress leaders began planning to appoint Jagan as the new Chief Minister. KVP Ramachandra Rao-a close aide of YSR began to rally Congress MLAs to pledge their support to Jagan. By the afternoon, reportedly 150 of the party’s 157 MLAs had signed a petition favouring Jagan. YSR was absolutely powerful in Andhra politics, and politicians who benefitted politically or otherwise by his patronisation, had no objection for Jagan. It was YSR’s historic padayatra, in the scorching summer of Andhra across 1,470 kilometres on foot covering 11 districts in 60 days that brought Congress to power in 2004.
Was not Rajiv Gandhi made the Prime Minister immediately after the untimely death of Indira Gandhi! Also, Sonia Gandhi was asked to take control of the Congress Party immediately after Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination, in 1991.
But Congress High Command was not in favour of crowning the son of a State Satrap! Virappa Moily, the Andhra in charge, conveyed party’s displeasure from Delhi. Sonia Gandhi, reportedly who was receiving “minute-by-minute” report from Hyderabad, was not in favour of YSR’s son!
“Madam gave a different message.” On the night of 3 September, the 78-year-old K Rosaiah became Acting Chief Minister, while his colleagues in the State pledged their support to Jagan.
Jagan remained loyal to the party High Command and waited silently for three weeks.
But 23 days after his father’s death, at a condolence meeting on 25 September held at Nalla Kaluva, Jagan started controlling the power for himself. He delivered a highly emotional speech: “Almost 660 people have sacrificed their lives for my father. Some of them committed suicide…I am telling all of them that YSR is not dead, he lives inside us through his ideals. I will meet every family affected, personally and find out about their wellbeing.”
He made no political overture or made no mention of the Congress party or the political developments.
Andhra MLAs continued lobbying with the High Command for Jagan and on October 22 October, Jagan met Sonia Gandhi with Virappa Moily and KVP Ramachandra Rao, in Delhi.
But the meeting was unable to convince Sonia Gandhi. Rosaiah was asked to continue, and the next month, on 29 November, confirmed as the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh.
78 year old Rosaiah was the Finance Minister under YSR, but he had no political base or influence in the State politics. He was not a Reddy, while nearly one third of Congress MLAs in the State are Reddys!
While his chance to become CM was a close chapter by then, Jagan turned his focus on Odarpu Yatra.
But the Congress High Command was not ready to allow Jagan to encash the emotions and the memory of YSR.
They asked him, what was the big deal in it! They rather wanted to bring Jagan at the Centre, giving some berth in the Union Ministry like Sachin Pilot of Jyotiraditya Scindia.
For six months, from October 2009 to April 2010, Jagan appealed to the High Command, for the permission, but it was denied every time.
In the month of June 2010, Jagan even went to Delhi, with his sister Sharmila and mother Vijayalakshmi, seeking an appointment with Sonia Gandhi to explain about proposed “Odarpu Yatra”. A meeting was held.
But Sonia was obviously not convinced.
Jagan also remained unconvinced and announced the beginning of the Odarpu Yatra on 8 July, on his father’s birth anniversary and symbolically to start it from Ichchapuram-the same place that YSR had his Padyatra in 2003 that changed the history of Andhra politics, thereafter.
Apparently under instructions from High Command Rosaiah ordered that no Andhra MLA or MP would attend the Yatra and surprisingly the Assembly Session was scheduled to begin the same day!
But Rosaiah was no match for YSR. He resigned and N Kiran Kumar Reddy, the former Assembly Speaker, took charge as the new Chief Minister.
In the meantime, Congress tried to pull YS Vivekananda Reddy, YSR’s brother with some ministerial berth, to create a fissure in the family. Which he avoided within a short period of time and came back to family fold.
Jagan, waited no further. He resigned from Congress, On November 29, 2010, writing a hard hitting letter to Congress High Command alleging conspiracy to destroy YSR’s legacy!
He wrote bitterly: “It was the conspiracy that is being hatched to vertically split the family of the great leader who brought back Congress party to power in Andhra Pradesh twice”.
The very next week in the family’s hometown Pulivendula, Jagan expressed his decision to launch a new party to carry on YSR’s memory. A party that would fight to protect the self-esteem of Telugu people and Andhra Pradesh.
On March 2011, Jagan announced his party Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress – YSR Congress – putting tough challenge at Congress and to Telugu Desam, the main opposition party.
Bearing The Cross!
As the Chief Minister, YSR functioned in sheer feudal style, suppressed all internal opposition. But to the loyals, he was the great saviour and most benevolent.
As an insider said bitterly- most of the State Congress leaders went to him for various helps. But today all of them are alleging him for corruption, to save their skins!
Everyone knew it. But YSR was the most important asset for Congress in Andhra. How come, the multiple Congress in-charges of AP, Virappa Moily, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Digvijay Singh, who visited the State regularly and took notice of every situation, were unaware of the ground reality!
How come, before the BJP took over in 2008 in Karnataka Reddy brothers were in good relation with Congress honchos! Many pointed out that the 2009 Congress election in the State was funded by many controversial sources! How come that until Jagan rebelled against Congress High Command and swooped on its vote base, the spectre of corruption was never witnessed by investigating agencies either in Karnataka or Andhra Pradesh!
Now the Central agency has focussed its probe mainly on YSR’s son. When YSR was Chief Minister and the decision maker, and how come Ministers and chief functionaries of the Congress not involved in it?
CBI named Dharmana Prasada Rao, who was the Revenue Minister in YSR Cabinet, who later became the R&B Minister. The permission was sought for his prosecution. The Cabinet rejected the CBI’s request to prosecute and arrest Rao . Prasada Rao resigned from the Cabinet, but his resignation was not accepted.
Sabita Indira Reddy was the Minister for mines in the first YSR Government. YSR, promoted her to the Home Minister of the State. After CBI charge sheeted her, she resigned, but her resignation was rejected.
Many say that, Jagan had suffered mostly not because what he had done, but more due to his father, whom Congress will never able to touch!
He Rebelled, He Won
In March 2012, YSR Congress won the Kovur assembly seat in Nellore district in a by-election.
On 10 30, 2012, YSR Congress won the Nellore Lok Sabha seat and 15 out of 18 Assembly seats in Andhra Pradesh.
In 2014 elections, opinion polls have already predicted YSR Congress’s big gain, specially in Seemandhra.
Despite all the accusations, the people of the State, mainly from rural areas believe that YSR has done a great deal of good work for them. There is a common belief that Jagan has been victimized.
CBI charged Jagan with multiple charges and surprisingly he was put in the Jail for 18 months, without bail. Still, the party work was carried on. While Jagan was in Jail, his mother Vijayalakshmi and his sister Sharmila carried the party all along, adding emotional value to it.
Jagan is a changed person today. Though he is almost like his father while taking inner party decisions, with the common people he is amicable, polite and mingling. He has picked up the oratory skill in all these years. He began slowly, but once he is able to build up the tempo, he can enact a much powerful presentation, intertwined in the typical Andhra fashion, full of emotions, modulation of voices and histrionics.
In his meetings, he draws a lot of sympathy, from the ordinary people, specially the women folk, when he narrates about his deceased father. He emotionally recounts how he was erred by a party which his father had built by years of sacrifice. He tells people that his mother and sister also suffered a lot but want to serve the people, taking forward his father’s unfinished mission.
He political maturity and anticipation has also grown over all these years. Initially he was a fence sitter on the Telangana issue, but when he became sure that Congress was trying to bring the bill for its survival, he made his position clear. Vehemently protesting against the bifurcation of the State. Knowing well that he had not much support in Telangana.
In unified Andhra, YSR Congress could not have mastered more than 100-120 Assembly Seats, which would have been insufficient to rule the State. But in Seemandhra, with that many seats, it will become easier for him to be in the CM’s post.
Jagan has views beyond Assembly too. He travelled across India meeting Nitish Kumar, Mamata Banerjee, Naveen Patnaik, Akilesh Yadav and the Badals…not just to clarify his anti Telangana stand, but to put an option open for future Third Front.
He knows well that TDP is getting closer with BJP and Modi. But he has anticipation that his party will ultimately get more Lok Sabha seats than TDP. So, in the post poll scenario BJP may need his support. Also in dispersing the CBI and ED cases, he needs the next non UPA Government’s support at the Centre. So, despite having a sizable minority vote base, he expresses openly that he is open to do business with Narendra Modi.
YSR Congress may face some real challenges from TDP in Seemandhra, specially in some pockets. Film star Pawan Kalyan’s newly formed Jana Sena Party can also create some minimal dents in its vote bank, but Jagan is a big brand now in Andhra politics, and after such a toilsome and rigorous campaigning over last three years, he is sure to get his due share and glory in the months to come.
By Deep Basu
Image Source: Jagan Reddy