YSR Congress Party chief Jagan Mohan Reddy’s unexpected release on bail -- after spending 16 months behind bars on charges of corruption -- has set many tongues wagging.
His detractors, including Telugu Desam Party leader Chandrababu Naidu, have alleged that Jagan was released as he had sealed a secret deal with the Congress for the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls.
In a candid chat with Rediff.com’s Vicky Nanjappa, Jagan dismissed such speculations.
"The elections shall be fought independently by the YSR Congress party. There is no question of any sort of tie-up with any party. We are capable of coming to power on our own," he said.
"It is unfortunate that the Congress Party, which my father had dedicated himself to, did not stand by me. BJP leader Sushma Swaraj was more considerate about my arrest, not the Congress which my father had brought to power in Andhra Pradesh. He had also helped the UPA form the government at the Centre. I am just stating the facts; these are not indications of me joining hands with the BJP. Even my comments in favour of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi should not be considered as a cozying up exercise. I praised him as an administrator as he has proved to be good at it. I had also stated that he should come to a secular forum," said Jagan.
According to sources in Jagan's party, he is not likely to forge a pre-poll alliance with any party as the YSR Congress chief wants to focus on winning the maximum number of seats.
"All options are open regarding an alliance. I will go with a secular front if the need be," said Jagan.
The demand for an unified Andhra will be the most crucial electoral plank for the YSR Congress Party. Opinion polls have placed the YSR Congress as the front-runner in the Seema-Andhra region and the TDP as the runner-up.
"We want to keep Andhra Pradesh united. Only the YSR Congress, the Communist party of India – Marxist and the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen are serious about keeping the state united. Both the TDP and the Congress are banking on a division to notch up the votes," said Jagan.
"The main agenda for us now is to stop the division of Andhra Pradesh. We have already sought a special session of the assembly and have even spoken to the governor about it. I personally believe that every citizen of the state should agree to the decision to divide it, which is not the case here. Unlike the TDP and the Congress, we are not supporting the division. If people are unhappy about the decision, then status quo ought to be maintained," he said.
Reacting to Naidu’s allegations, Jagan said, "The TDP, along with the Congress, filed cases against me. In fact, the language used in their complaints was so similar that it looked like a joint venture. On the basis of these complaints, my house was raided and I was arrested".
Some political analysts in Andhra believe that Naidu will join the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance on Wednesday in Delhi. However, sources within the TDP disagree, as they believe Naidu, much like Jagan, would like to keep all his options open till the Lok Sabha election results revealed a clear picture of the current political realities.