Elections 2019: Jagan Mohan Reddy's challenging journey ends in success

Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy
For Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, the position of chief minister came at the end of a 25-year long leadership pursuit in the Congress. Swearing-in as chief minister this week is his son and Y S R Congress Party (YSRCP) President Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy, who has reached the post in just over eight years, after charting out his own po­litical course back in November 2010. 

But for him, these eight years were packed with challenges and the end-of-the-road moments. 

Jagan — as people and his party workers call him — last week achieved a monumental victory for the YSRCP in the Andhra Pradesh Assembly election, gaining 151 or 86 per cent of the total number of seats, in the 175-member House without any electoral alliance. Also, his party won 22 of the 25 Lok Sabha seats in the state.  

This is a record win for any political party in Andhra Pradesh in more than three decades. In percentage te­rms, the YSRCP has even bettered the Telugu Desam Party’s 216-seat tally (under the leadership of its fou­nder N T Rama Rao) in the 294-member Assembly of undivided AP in 1994.

Like his father, Jagan, too, has emerged second-time lucky in his electoral battle against TDP supremo N Chandrababu Naidu, who has been the longest-serving chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, spanning pre- and post-bifurcation periods.

Jagan was described by many as a man in a hurry when in 2009 close confidants of his father started collecting signatures of Congress MLAs who had come to visit the mortal re­mains of Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, seeking the former's political succession. YSR had died in a helicopter crash on September 2 that year, less than four months after returning to power in the state. 

This unflattering narrative about Jagan continued and only grew louder in the party after senior Congress leader K Rosaiah was appointed chief minister of Andhra Pradesh. Jagan was likened to his grandfather Y S Raja Reddy, who was killed by rival factionists in 1998, for his aggressive nature.

A state-wide tour launched by him in the name of consoling hundreds of families of those who died of shock after hearing about the death of YSR did not go down well with the party high command.

Jagan finally announced his resignation from the Congress and the Lok Sabha, to launch his own party little more than a year after his father's death. That was the time when Rosaiah was replaced by Nallari Kiran Kumar Reddy in the light of resurgent agitations in support of separate statehood for Telangana. Then came the mother of all challenges for Jagan.

In August 2011, the Andhra Pradesh High Court ordered preliminary enquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into Jagan’s assets while acting on the alleged quid pro quo corruption charges levelled by TDP MP Yerran Naidu and Congress legislator Shankar Rao. 

Soon, Jagan was arrested and kept in judicial custody for 14 months from May 2012. The investigative agency alleged that Jagan's companies received quid pro quo money in the garb of investments from certain businessmen and industrialists, who got favours from the state government under his chief minister father. 

These cases further dimmed the public image of Jagan and threatened his political career before he revived his mass contact programme and finally took out a 14-month padyatra — covering more than 3,500 km across AP — which ended in January this year. 

With near 50 per cent votes polled in favour of the YSRCP, Jagan today enjoys popular support irrespective of what was said about him in the past. A senior bu­re­aucrat used to compare Jagan's father with a good wine that tastes better as it aged. Only time will tell as to how Jagan has evolved through the testing times he underwent after his father's demise.

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