Hyderabad: YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, who inflicted a crushing blow to Congress in the family pocket-borough of Kadapa, now plans to consolidate his support base elsewhere in Andhra Pradesh to take on the ruling party.
Jagan seems to have realised that his resounding victory in the Kadapa Lok Sabha seat is merely not good enough to cause any threat to the N Kiran Kumar Reddy-led Congress Government.
Sources close to him say the upcoming elections to urban local bodies and panchayat raj institutions could serve as the real testing ground for Jagan`s strength.
All his rhetoric against the Congress Government notwithstanding, Jagan seems to have realised that he doesn`t command the strength to cause any threat to the government either immediately or in the near future.
As things stand, Jagan has the open backing of only about 15 MLAs in the 294-member AP Assembly, a number too short to make any dent to the government.
Interestingly, only about eight MLAs turned up at Jagan`s 48-hour hunger-strike on the farmers` issue in Guntur in the last two days.
Buoyed by his victory in the Kadapa Lok Sabha by-election by a record margin of over 5.45 lakh votes, Jagan initially announced that the Kiran Kumar Reddy government would "fall" within six months.
Subsequently, he changed his tone and said dislodging the government might not be possible as the principal opposition Telugu Desam Party became "an alliance partner" of the ruling Congress.
One who always spoke of over-throwing the government "at the opportune time", Jagan has now changed track and has dared the Congress to go for snap polls and seek a fresh mandate.
"Let him first come out with the exact number of MLAs supporting him and then talk of snap polls or anything else," state Transport Minister Botsa Satyanarayana remarked, rebuking Jagan.
Given its own predicaments, the TDP too is not ready to take the Jagan bait and move a no-confidence motion against the Congress government.
"We have an ideology and a strategy of our own. We will not act according to someone else`s wishes," TDP supremo N Chandrababu Naidu asserted.
"If Jagan is so confident about his strength, why doesn`t he make the MLAs supporting him to resign and seek a mandate. That will make things clear," TDP politburo member Yanamala Ramakrishnudu said.
Though about 15 MLAs, including two TDP rebels and one PRP rebel, are apparently behind him, some of the Congress legislators are making moves to stay back in their parent party rather than sail with Jagan fearing disqualification.
For the time being, the Congress initiated disqualification proceedings against only four MLAs of whom two have reportedly affirmed that they would indeed stay in the ruling party only.
Even among those sailing with Jagan, not all MLAs are said to be happy given his "undemocratic" style of functioning.
A Congress and a PRP MLA already walked out of the Jagan camp protesting his "dictatorial" attitude.
"As MLAs loyal to him we couldn`t manage an appointment with Jagan and had to wait for two or three days for an audience. That style of functioning will only be detrimental for Jagan," an MLA who walked out of the camp said.
Besides, Jagan`s ploy of encouraging the "emerging leaders" even in constituencies where his loyalists are sitting MLAs is also not going down well with the latter.
These are some reasons why the so-called fence-sitters are showing no urgency to jump onto the Jagan bandwagon despite his massive win in the by-poll.
In such a scenario, Jagan cannot go ahead immediately with his plan to dislodge the Kiran Kumar Reddy government, sources close to him aver.
The MP-elect may make his further moves only if the YSR Congress Party succeeds in elections to the local bodies whenever they are held.
Till then, Kiran Kumar and Co can breathe easy.