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Will Jagan's arrest put Congress on the back foot in AP?

May 28, 2012 23:13 IST

The arrest of YSR Congress chief Jagan Mohan Reddy has sent shockwaves through the Congress, with most senior leaders dubbing it as a suicidal move, and which has the potential of finishing off the party in Andhra Pradesh.

Sources say that the Congress leadership had received a report which predicted that the party was set to lose all the 18 by-elections to be held on June 12 and where Jagan has put up candidates in all the constituencies.

Having been advised that since the Congress was losing in any case, they should begin moves to improve their position in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections by discrediting Jagan, who had been getting the support of Congress members of Legislative Assembly and members of Parliament.

The leadership was also advised that Jagan may topple the Congress government in Andhra Pradesh after the by-elections, but if he is in jail, then others may have second thoughts about joining him.

There were major protests and disturbances in the state after his arrest, with his own mother blaming Congress president Sonia Gandhi and sitting on a dharna.

It is learnt that Jagan's maternal uncle, who is the Mayor of Kadapa has asked for time to meet Sonia to resolve the issue, failing which his sister would start a yatra where the main focus would be launching a vitriolic campaign against Sonia.

She would also be campaigning in the by elections and ensure that the message of Jagan's arrest and the vendetta politics of the Congress is carried everywhere.

It is unlikely that the meeting will take place soon, since the Congress president is on a three-day vacation to Kausani in Uttarakhand.

It is also learnt that the Congress was split down the middle over Jagan's arrest with even the AP All India Congress Committee General Secretary Ghulam Nabi Azad reportedly not in favour of the move.

According to a source, MPs and MLAs present in a state Congress were also not in favour of the arrest.

But sources say that the state Governor E S L Narasimhan who has been given another term by the Ccentre has emerged as the main advisor to the Congress on all issues dealing with Jagan, and it appears that he felt it would be the right way of discrediting him and to break his support base.

Congress leaders feel that the entire issue was mishandled from day one, and the leadership should have reached out and taken Jagan into protective custody and made him see sense, rather than act against him in the manner in which it was done.

The feeling is that the Jagan episode may backfire, and may put the Congress on a backfoot in the badly divided AP politics.

Renu Mittal in New Delhi