365 days of no Odarpu

By T S Sudhir
If a week is a long time in politics, a year is like a lifetime. And no one knows this better than Y S Jaganmohan Reddy, who at this time last year, was easily the second most powerful man in Andhra Pradesh after his chief minister dad, Y S Rajasekhara Reddy. A year after YSR’s death, Jagan has learnt that being born with a silver spoon in his mouth is no guarantee to get the golden crown.
Come to think of it, Jagan had everything going for him to get the top job in Andhra Pradesh. 150 of the 155 MLAs supported him to be made CM in September 2009. But having taken the elevator to reach the top floor, Jagan had obviously missed the noticeboards along the stairs. Which said that in the Congresss party, you do not demand, you are given. The crying baby in his party does not get the milk. Instead it is made to pay for creating `noise’ pollution.
After trying to fix the Jagan issue through a carrot-and-stick policy for the past many months, the Congress has finally bowled a doosra. In its latest salvo, the party has hijacked Jagan’s plank and announced a parallel Odarpu yatra. The DCC presidents have been asked to prepare the list of those who died after YSR’s death, assemble them at one place and give compensation of one lakh rupees to each bereaved family. Will the AICC borrow the list from Jagan? In which case, 600 families will mean the AICC will need to shell out 6 crore rupees.
Congressmen will have to now decide if they want to be part of Sonia Gandhi’s official IPL bandwagon or Jagan’s rebel ICL yatra. This decision, Delhi hopes, will ensure the leaders starting with those in Prakasam district, behave themselves. No longer will they have the excuse of saying “we are paying our respects to our beloved leader YSR.” Come to the official party, orders Veerappa Moily, cast in a Lalit Modi kind of role.
But Jagan is playing with a straight bat. He has thanked Sonia Gandhi for the gesture but interpreted the AICC move to do an action replay as an admission of the popularity of his own tour. But giving a sermon on Indian culture to Sonia, Jagan says it is not about giving money alone but consoling the families at their homes and not assembling them at one place. The Prakasam tour is on, his camp insists and has asked MLAs, MPs and party leaders to join him.
Torn between Jagan and Delhi, most Congressmen are veering towards the latter. Says Danam Nagender, a YSR and Jagan loyalist, who after all also has to retain a place in the cabinet. “Our advice to Jagan is that the line drawn by the High command should not be crossed. If he does so, Jagan has to suffer a loss.”
But the Congress decision to chant the YSR name also is to ensure Jagan alone is not the claimant to the YSR legacy. The attempt now is to clearly downplay YSR’s role and make it appear as if he was only a manager of the Congress’s first family to get its agenda implemented in Andhra Pradesh.
Two, the Congress party and government going to town with YSR placards will mean Jagan cannot criticise the Rosaiah government, accusing it of dumping YSR’s pet schemes.
At the same time, this could be Jagan’s last chance to reconcile his differences with the High command. Despite being sceptical of the list of suicides, the Congress has agreed to distribute compensation, a first for any leader. That admittedly is a climbdown. It is an opportunity for Jagan to negotiate his way to become the first among equals in the Congress heirarchy in Andhra Pradesh. Stay in the Congress, but on Delhi’s terms.
But Jagan won’t. The Congress plan is to get its district president, local MP and ministers to distribute the money. That way, Jagan by virtue of being Kadapa MP will get reduced to just a district entity. Hardly the kind of platform that he is seeking to launch a political battle for Hyderabad.
Political analyst K Nageshwar says if Jagan is to be wooed back, he would need a Odarpu package as well from Sonia. After all, Sonia refused to make him chief minister despite the entire cabinet moving a resolution to that effect.
It is that Delhi to Hyderabad Odarpu yatra that will determine the political future of Jagan and the Congress in Andhra Pradesh.
You can also find T S Sudhir’s blogs at http://www.thesouthreports.com

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About t s sudhir & uma sudhir

Uma Sudhir and T S Sudhir are senior journalists, based in Hyderabad. Both work for NDTV. Uma is a Tamilian, who was educated in
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