AP succession: Jaganmohan makes appeal, invokes high command



Hyderabad: Congress High Command's directive for restraint notwithstanding, there was no let up in the open campaign by followers of Y S Jaganmohan Reddy to make him as Chief Minister on a day today when he broke his silence leaving the issue to the party leadership.

At the same time, the son of late Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy gave ample hints that he was in the race for succession even as his reluctant followers were persuaded to join interim Chief Minister K Rosaiah's Cabinet in which all the 34 ministers of the YSR team were sworn in.

The swearing-in, which ended confusion over whether the YSR Cabinet needed to take fresh oath as required under the Constitution, saw all the loyalists of the late Chief Minister take the oath after the intervention of Congress observer Digvijay Singh.

Jaganmohan, who was not present at the condolence meeting organised by PCC in state Congress headquarters, issued a four-page statement asking his supporters to stop their campaign for making him the Chief Minister and said the decision should be left to the high command.

In a veiled indication that he was not ruling himself out of the succession race, the 37-year-old first time MP said party chief Sonia Gandhi respects public perception and feelings of lakhs of Congress Party workers.

Gandhi, he said, will take a decision in such a way that his father's ideals, mission and zeal would not be compromised.

A day after the Congress leadership told Jagan supporters not to indulge in open jockeying for chief ministership till the seven-day mourning period is over on Thursday, Jagan's loyalists today converted a condolence meeting to express their demand for making him YSR's successor.

At the end of a condolence meeting organised by the PCC, the crowd of supporters took out placards that read "We want Jagan as CM" and indulged in incessant slogan shouting. As the situation appeared to go out of control, Rosaiah, PCC president D Srinivas, Union ministers S Jaipal Reddy and D Purandeshwari quietly left the auditorium.

The crowd also did not spare Rajya Sabha member V Hanumantha Rao, who resented any comparison between Jagan and late Rajiv Gandhi, who succeeded Indira Gandhi after her assassination. One of the placards read "VHR go back".

Rao and another Rajya Sabha member K Keshav Rao, who also criticised any "dynastic succession", also left the stage.

It took the intervention of K V P Ramchandra Rao, a Rajya Sabha member and advisor to late YSR, who appeared on the stage and made an emotional appeal to the workers to remain calm. Rao said Sonia Gandhi was aware of YSR's popularity with the masses and support enjoyed by Jagan with YSR's supporters and Congress workers.

When news came that a fresh oath of office and secrecy needed to be administered to ministers of YSR's Cabinet under the Constitution, seven to eight die-hard supporters of YSR including Agriculture Minister P Ramachandra Reddy were said to be reluctant to take oath saying they would do so only under Jagan.

After a meeting with Digvijay Singh, who was of the view that matters should not be precipitated before the mourning period is over on Thursday, Ramchandra Rao told YSR loyalists to join the government.

After the swearing-in, some of the ministers urged the Congress High Command to convene meeting of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) after the end of the mourning period.

About 12 to 15 Congress MPs from Andhra Pradesh including some from the Rajya Sabha met here backing the candidature of Jagan as Chief Minister and asked convenor of state MPs forum Punnam Prabhakar to convey their feelings to the High Command.

Some senior leaders including J C Diwakar Reddy and Jana Reddy met at the residence of union minister S Jaipal Reddy, who said no significance need to be attached to their meeting.

Jaipal Reddy parried a question whether he was in the race and whether he supported Jagan as the next CM. The Union Minister had yesterday ruled himself out of the race.

Jagan, who arrived in Hyderabad with his mother and sister from Idupulapaya two days after the YSR's burial, was not present at the condolence meeting organised by PCC.

In his four-page message, he said he had noticed that some of the party leaders and workers were rushing to the media and suggesting their choices for the successor of his father Y S Rajasekhara Reddy.

"I request everyone with folded hands to stop such activities by going to the media, signature campaigns, using of banners, placards, demonstrations for my leadership as the successor of our beloved departed leader as this is not the time or the occasion," Jagan Reddy said.

"On my part, like my father, I am duty bound to be a loyal and disciplined Congress worker. We are in mourning with deep heart. As a disciplined soldier of the Congress Party it gives pain to the soul of our beloved leader," he added.

"Our high command knows and more particularly our beloved leader Sonia Gandhi respects the public perception and feelings of lakhs of Congress Party workers and she knows too well what is good for all of us and what is good for our state and people," Jagan, who arrived here today from Idupulapaya, two days after last rites for his late father, said.

Bureau Report