The case against Jagan Mohan Reddy raises questions for the Congress too
Even as it appeared that the Congress was flailing to meet the political challenge posed by the Jagan Mohan Reddy mobilisation in Andhra Pradesh,the CBI has charged Jagan with money-laundering,operating through front companies and fake bank accounts and shareholders,and fudging evaluations. Jagan is yet to have his day in court. But in the circumstances,his arrest is bound to be seen against the backdrop of the building political confrontation.
If the issue is corruption,then the story could be much larger than Jagan or his father,the late Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy. It may implicate the Congress in uncomfortable ways. The five ministers who have been served notices by the CBI,in addition to former excise minister Mopidevi Venkataramana who has been arrested,are the partys own. After all,not long ago,Andhra Pradesh was the Congresss proud centrepiece,under its all-powerful chief minister,YSR. The Congress appreciated YSRs political capital and fund-raising acumen,the state benefited from his many lavish welfare schemes,and he even co-opted much of the opposition. He delivered 29 critical Lok Sabha seats to the Congress in 2004,and 33 in 2009,and by all accounts,the Congress didnt seem to care,back then,if his chief ministership coincided with his sons business interests and assets multiplying in value. After YSRs sudden death,all the calculations appear to have unravelled. When he wasnt automatically acknowledged as YSRs political heir,Jagan set himself on a collision course with the party. His Odarpu yatra,ostensibly meant to console grieving families across the state,was aimed at consolidating and claiming his fathers triumphs for himself,and drumming up opposition to the Congress. He notched some victories,bringing away MLAs to the fledgling YSR Congress,and looked poised for the upcoming test of strength in
by-elections to 18 assembly seats and one Lok Sabha seat in Nellore next month.
By all accounts,Jagans arrest comes at a critical political juncture. Congresss political opponents have already alleged that it is a way for the party to signal to its MLAs that desertion would have dire consequences. Ironically,the Congress has turned a bastion into a vulnerable spot. First,it let YSR make the party over in his own image,and then it failed to control the consequences with Jagan. It has dithered dangerously over Telangana. And now,it must take responsibility if allegations of corruption against Jagan get intertwined with suspicions of a vindictive politics.