Unready For A Look
- The FIR filed by the CBI seeks to establish that at least 74 firms, persons invested huge amounts in Jaganmohan Reddy’s companies in return for favours doled out Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy when he was CM
- An upset Jagan got 29 MLAs to resign in protest
- With no political support, Jagan is reaching out to the BJP
- If Jagan is arrested, his mother will run the YSR Congress
Preening and defiant after his handsome victory in the Kadapa Lok Sabha bypoll in May this year, YSR Congress party chief Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy seemed rather unstoppable, and a threat to the Congress. But as the CBI closes in on him after the Andhra Pradesh High Court ordered it to probe Jagan’s sudden increase in wealth, it looks like the rebel has painted himself into a corner.
The CBI raids on Jagan’s companies and investors last fortnight have been fast and smooth. Jagan’s defence—that all the government orders sanctioning sezs to industrialists who invested in his Jagathi Publications and other firms were passed not by his father alone but by the entire cabinet—is being brushed aside by Congress leaders. Sources in YSR Congress say Jagan too knows it is just a matter of time before he is arrested. In preparation, his mother Vijayamma is being trained for the task of taking over the reins of the party.
Out in the cold, Jagan has found support in the BJP, which has been trying to gain a toehold in Andhra Pradesh. Opposition leaders Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley criticised the CBI probe against him, most visibly in the recent debates in Parliament, calling it politically motivated. After the Telugu Desam Party distanced itself from the NDA, the BJP has taken up the Telangana cause to get close to the Telangana Rashtra Samiti. Former BJP state president Bandaru Dattatreya denies that the BJP is trying to woo Jagan.
Congress and Telugu Desam leaders feel that Jagan’s trumpcard of getting 29 MLAs to resign in protest of the CBI raids on August 23 will win him no respite. Calling Jagan’s move immature, tdp chief Chandrababu Naidu says, “When the entire nation has risen against corruption, these MLAs have resigned to protect a leader who the High Court says should be investigated for corruption. This may be construed as challenging the HC order.” Even Congress leader and former MP Renuka Chowdhary asserts, “It is the HC which gave the CBI the order to investigate Jagan’s assets. Are Jagan’s supporters suggesting that the HC does not have the jurisdiction or that the government is running the High Court?”
The rousing popular mood against corruption across India is said to have rattled the nerves of the 29 MLAs, some of whom now harbour second thoughts about hitching their wagon to Jagan’s star. Many are worried that they too might face similar CBI probes or, worse, lose the bypolls in case their resignations are accepted. “Some of the MLAs have called the speaker, asking him not to accept their resignations,” claims Congress MLA Anam Vivekananda Reddy. The Jagan camp of course denies this hotly. “We have resigned so that they be accepted and not simply to create some drama,” says rebel Congress MLA Shobha Nagi Reddy.
Meanwhile, tourism minister Vatti Vasanth Kumar announced at a press conference that the IT returns of Jagathi Publications form the basis of the ongoing investigations. Citing the names of big leaders being probed by the CBI, like Laloo Prasad Yadav and A. Raja, Kumar says, “YSR always used to say in the assembly that if his son is involved in any illegal deals, let there be a CBI inquiry. He would say, ‘The law will take its own course’. And that’s what is happening now.”