New Delhi/Hyderabad: For the first time after becoming chief minister of Andhra Pradesh two months ago, Nallari Kiran Kumar Reddy Saturday hit back at former Congress MP Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy and challenged party legislators supporting him to resign and contest elections afresh.
Countering Jaganmohan Reddy`s claim that the Congress government in the state was at his mercy, the chief minister reminded him that his father and late chief minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, popularly known by his initials YSR, had become a mass leader because of the Congress and the encouragement given by Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi.
"If Rajasekhara Reddy became chief minister of Andhra Pradesh and a tall leader not only in the state but in the entire country, it was because of the Congress party and Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi. The family of Rajasekhara Reddy should be indebted to the Congress party," said Kiran Kumar Reddy in New Delhi.
The chief minister`s counter-attack came on a day when Jagan, as Jaganmohan Reddy is popularly called, was undertaking a one-day hunger strike with his supporters in Visakhapatnam to protest the hike in petrol prices.
During a similar fast in the national capital with 31 legislators and two MPs Jan 11, Jagan had taunted the Congress that he was doing the party a favour by not bringing down its government in the state.
The chief minister, who was on a visit to New Delhi for consultations with the party`s central leadership on the Telangana issue, hit back at Jagan, saying he became a MP because of his father.
Pointing out that Jagan became active in the party only a year ago when he was elected an MP, Kiran Kumar Reddy said in contrast he (Kiran Kumar) was elected as legislator 20 years ago.
Kiran Kumar also reminded Jagan that his late father never thought of destabilizing the Congress government in the state and never challenged the party`s authority.
Jagan resigned from the Congress and his Kadapa parliamentary seat in November last year after accusing the party leadership of trying to divide his family by luring his uncle Y.S. Vivekananda Reddy with a ministerial berth in the Andhra Pradesh cabinet.
Jagan`s camp atatcked Kiran Kumar soon after he made the remarks during a news conference in New Delhi. Legislators supporting Jagan said the government was YSR`s "charity".
"This government was formed because of YSR and it is his charity," said G. Babu Rao, a legislator supporting Jagan.
Addressing the hunger strike camp in Visakhapatnam, Rao said they were ready to resign but would do so only at Jagan`s direction.
G. Kutulahamma, a legislator who has not yet joined hands with Jagan, criticised the chief minister for asking legislators supporting Jagan to resign.
She told reporters in Hyderabad that Kiran Kumar`s remarks were irresponsible as the legislators were supporting Jagan on people`s issues.