Amaravati, April 6 (IANS) YSR Congress Party leader Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy is keeping everyone guessing with his praise for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and also by forgiving the Congress.
With just four days left for simultaneous elections for the Andhra Pradesh Assembly and all 25 Lok Sabha seats in the state, Jagan told a television channel that he has forgiven the Congress.
“I believe in God. I pray to God. I read the Bible every day. Vengeance is not for me. I am forgiving and I have forgiven,” he told the channel.
The YSRCP chief also lauded Modi for showing a stronger will than any other prime minister. He, however, said Modi may have done far better in the rest of the country, but in Andhra Pradesh he is portrayed as someone who betrayed the state by not giving it special category status.
Jagan, who foresees a hung Parliament, has been saying that he will back any party or parties wanting to form the government provided they promise to confer special status to the state.
The Congress party has already announced that if voted to power at the Centre, it would grant the special status to Andhra Pradesh.
By “forgiving” the Congress, the YSRCP chief apparently wants to keep his options open. His remarks also assume significance as Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, with whom he is locked in bitter power battle, had been working with the Congress since last year to cobble up an anti-BJP front at the national level.
The TDP also had a poll alliance with the Congress in sthe Telangana Assembly elections held in December 2018 but after it came a cropper, the Congress decided to go alone in the Andhra elections.
The national party, however, has considerably weakened with many top leaders crossing over to YSRCP and TDP over last five years.
This is not the first time Jagan has praised Modi. At an election rally a couple of days ago, the Leader of Opposition had said the credit for bringing Kia Motors plant to Andhra Pradesh goes to Modi.
However, Jagan’s praise for Modi may not go well with the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), which, along with the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), is working to form the Federal Front as an alternative to both the BJP and the Congress.
At the two election meetings Modi addressed in Telangana, he launched a bitter attack on KCR over various issues and the latter also hit back hard at him.
In January, TRS working president K. T. Rama Rao had met Jagan to invite him to join the Federal Front proposed by his father and TRS chief K. Chandrashekhar Rao.
Jagan agreed to work together with the TRS. TRS has been predicting that Jagan’s party will not only sweep the Assembly polls but will win 20-22 Lok Sabha seats.
Jagan told an election rally last week that he is working with the TRS as it has assured him of its support for the special category status demand.
The YSRCP leader’s remarks about Modi and TRS have provided further ammunition to ruling TDP, which has been accusing him of being hand-in-glove with Narendra Modi and TRS to work against the state’s interests.
TDP leaders point out that both Modi and BJP president Amit Shah, at their election rallies, targeted the TDP but avoided attacking Jagan.
Jagan, a businessman-politician, had revolted against the Congress after it rejected his claim for the Chief Minister’s post following the death of his father and then Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy in a helicopter crash in 2009.
He later quit the Congress floated the YSRCP, which has now become a key force in the state politics and a strong contender for power in next week’s elections.
Jagan also spent 16 months in jail in quid-pro-quo cases investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The cases relate to the investments received by his businesses from various firms and individuals in return for the land and other favours they received from his father’s government during 2004-2009.
However, after his release from the jail in September 2013, Jagan strengthened the party. In the 2014 elections, YSRCP bagged 67 seats in 175-member Assembly but the votes it polled were a mere 1.6 per cent less than the TDP-BJP combine. The YSRCP also won eight Lok Sabha seats.
The elections saw the Congress party drawing a blank in both the Assembly and Lok Sabha as people vent their anger against the party for the bifurcation of the state.
(Mohammed Shafeeq can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)