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'Jagan will come back to the Congress'

January 18, 2011 14:16 IST
Will Union Minister of State for Steel Sai Prathap quit the government and join forces with Jaganmohan Reddy?

The minister spoke to Rediff.com's Vicky Nanjappa in an exclusive interview.

The Congress, which was almost unbeatable in Andhra Pradesh when Dr Y S Rajashekhar Reddy was alive, today faces two rock solid problems -- the late YSR's son Jaganmohan Reddy and Telangana.

During his 24-hour fast in New Delhi last week Jaganmohan Reddy declared that 'he was doing the Congress a favour by not taking away its MLAs at this point of time.'

While these developments unfurl, there is talk that Union Minister of State for Steel and senior Congress leader from Andhra Pradesh, Sai Prathap, will quit the government and party and join the Jagan camp soon.

In this exclusive interview with Rediff.com's Vicky Nanjappa, Prathap hopes Jagan will return to the Congress party.

There is talk that you will join the Jagan faction.

Who has told you this? It is unfair to start such rumours since I have no such plans.

Are you sure? It seems a 'pretty strong rumour'...

(Laughs) I think I know better about what I want to do than what you people think. There is no such move on my part.

Do you at least agree that the Congress is in the doldrums in Andhra Pradesh?

Again, it is unfair to say that. Following Dr Reddy's death there has been a vacuum and the party is coping up with this loss.

He was a great leader and that goes without saying. The government in AP will sail through another three years as it has that much time.

The party is strong and has come back to power in the state for the second time in a row and that itself says a lot about the position of the party.

I agree the Congress party was in a position of strength until YSR passed away. However, his son has made matters worse by breaking away. Is that correct?

Yes, the Jaganmohan Reddy issue is there. We have to wait and see what shape this issue takes.

It is difficult to comment on the position of the Congress at the moment since a lot of developments have taken place.

Do not underestimate Kiran Kumar Reddy, the newly appointed chief minister of Andhra Pradesh.

He is a very strong man. I am pretty sure he will tide over this crisis.

People say you spoke with Jagan and assured him that you would join him.

I do not know why you are stuck on this point. I have not approached him or spoken to him regarding changing the party.

He has left the party and has his own plans, but I am not in that now.

I still do not understand why such a rumour has been floated about me. It is baseless.

There must be a reason why such rumours have been floated. Do you know who is floating such rumours?

I do not want to take names, but there are two persons in the party itself who have been floating these rumours.

They have ruined it for the party and when the time comes their names will come out.

Are you happy with the Congress party? Has the Jagan factor never impressed you or tempted you to cross over?

I am a six time Member of Parliament and I have been recognised by the party. Why else would they give me the rank of Minister of State for Steel?

They have recognised my work and dedication for the party. I have been with the party for 30 years now. I am happy with it. Why would I think of crossing over?

Moreover, I have not made any comments against the party or in favour of Jagan which would prompt the rumour mills to start.

The Telangana issue. Will it be the Waterloo for the Congress?

I do not think so. Everyone knows that Andhra Pradesh cannot be divided.

You know what is more interesting? The leaders from Telangana too are aware that there cannot be a division of the state at any cost.

I have been vocally expressing that Andhra should remain united. The Telangana issue is not an issue at all for the Congress. Andhra will remain united.

Who does YSR belong to today? Jagan or the Congress?

In the Congress we believe we have to respect our senior leaders and recognise the work that they have done for the party and the people.

YSR has sacrificed a lot for the people and the party and his name will always be associated with the Congress. His boy has, however, differed and left the party.

We have to wait and see what happens in the future. YSR will be part of the Congress; even today all party leaders mention his name and the work undertaken by him without fail.

So, there is no immediate danger for the Congress in AP?

Not at all. I am saying this with all my experience. The party will remain safe.

What will the Congress do to remain safe?

Work for the people. That should be the primary focus of the party.

All developmental work will be completed and the people will benefit.

You see how things shape up. I can say with a lot of confidence that the people will not let go of the Congress.

There is talk about a link-up between Jagan and the Telangana Rashtra Samithi.

It is just a rumour and one should not read too much into that.

What is Jagan's future in Andhra Pradesh?

As of now all I want to say with confidence is that Jagan will come back to the Congress fold.