Jaganmohan quits party, Congress unmoved (Roundup)

Monday, November 29, 2010

NEW DELHI/HYDERABAD - A defiant Kadapa MP Jaganmohan Reddy and his mother Vijaylaxmi, an MLA, resigned from the Congress Monday even as the party high command in a move to counter his influence on Congress supporters was considering the inclusion of his uncle, Vivekanada Reddy, in the new Andhra Pradesh cabinet.

Party spokesperson Janardhan Dwivedi, dismissing the development, said in New Delhi that the “Congress is greater than individuals”.

Jaganmohan’s resignation comes five days after Kiran Kumar Reddy, a former associate of Jagan’s father Y.S. Rajasekara Reddy (popularly known as YSR), was sworn in the new chief minister.

Kiran Reddy took charge after K. Rosaiah, chief minister for 14 months, resigned last Wednesday. Jaganmohan has been leading a campaign against Rosaiah after he was denied the chief minister’s chair soon after YSR’s death last September.

“The Jagan story has began today. One has to see how it affects the Andhra Pradesh politics and national politics,” an MP from an ally of the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) told IANS.

The 38-year-old Jagan hastened his decision to quit the party as the Congress high command was considering the inclusion of YSR’s brother Vivekanada Reddy in the Kiran Reddy cabinet, which is likely to be expanded Wednesday, political circles in New Delhi said.

Vivekanada has been camping in New Delhi, holding parleys with the Congress leadership, sources said.

However, the Congress government did not appear to be in immediate danger unless Jagan woos a substantial number of MPs, a party leader said.

The Congress has 156 MLA’s in the 293-member house even after the resignation of Vijaylaxmi. The party had held parleys recently with cine star-turned politician Chiranjeevi, whose Prajarajyam Party has 18 MLAs in the assembly.

The All India Majilis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), a regional party which is part of the UPA, has seven MLAs while there are four independents.

On the opposition side, the Telugu Desam Party has 89 MLAs, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) 11 MLAs and the Left parties five MLAs.

Reacting to Jagan’s resignation, Dwivedi said: “It is their decision. The party has nothing to do with it. They must have perceived the pros and cons but I would like to say emphatically that the Congress is greater than individuals.”

The Jagan resignation adds to the Congress’ headache when the 18-month-old UPA II government is faced with a host of scandals - on the 2G spectrum allocation, the Commonwealth Games and the Adarsh housing society.

“Even before the party has recovered from the shock of its humiliating defeat in the assembly polls in Bihar, where it got just 4 out of the 243 seats, another setback has come from the south,” admitted a party leader.

“But it may not affect the UPA government in the near future,” he argued.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi was away visiting her constituency Amethi when Jagan resigned in the morning.

While resigning, Jaganmohan wrote a hard hitting letter to Sonia Gandhi, saying that attempts were made to send him out and damage his father’s image. YSR died in a helicopter crash 14 months ago.

The Kadapa MP, however, appealed to his followers among the party’s state legislators not to resign.

Jagan’s campaign against the party took a sharp turn recently when his Sakshi TV channel aired programmes criticising Sonia Gandhi, her son Rahul Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. A Sakshi TV programme also mocked at the Congress defeat in Bihar and the campaign led by Rahul Gandhi.

Congress MP V. Hanumantha Rao said Jagan’s resignation would have “no effect” on the Congress in Andhra Pradesh as the party was “very strong”.

Congress circles said that Sonia Gandhi, who returned to Delhi in the afternoon, will hold discussions with senior leaders on the Andhra affairs.

“Several developments were anticipated” said a party office bearer, hinting at the resignation of Jagan.

The Congress party has sent 32 MPs to the Lok Sabha from Andhra Pradesh.

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