Thursday, February 11, 2010


Even two weeks after the untimely demise of Y S Rajashekhar Reddy, the war of succession continues to take a heavy toll of politics and governance of Andhra Pradesh. Neither the political pundits nor seasoned congress politicians are in a position to predict the unfolding events with some degree of certainty. This is precisely because the congress high command on one side and Jaganmohan Reddy lobby on the other are caught in an unrelenting cold war with each side sticking to its position. Who will ultimately win this war of succession? The puzzle remains unanswered until one side gets a clear lead over the other. However this enigmatic situation need not deter us from making some valid observations on the developing political situation in the state.

Andhra Pradesh has a chief minister now. The CM’s post is not vacant today as supporters of Jagan want us to believe. The constitution does not recognize the so called concepts like care taker chief minister. Even the spokespersons of Congress high command publicly aired this view many a time. The men in AICC, Manish Tiwari or Abhishek singhvi or Veerappa Moily did not mince the words when they maintained that there is no vacancy for Chief minister post in Andhra Pradesh and the high command is not in any undue hurry to effect a change in the leadership if at all they want to do so. The AICC leaders are not speaking legal or constitutional language. The Political message is loud and clear. The congress high command want to send a clear a message to the legislators and ministers that it is not in favour of making Jagan chief minister atleast in the immediate future. By doing so the high command directly and indirectly communicating to the Jagan & co that they have to fall in line. It seems that legislators and ministers have already understood the message more than required. There is a perceptible change in the tone of Jagan loyalists. While joining the chorus of support, these MLAs and ministers are repeatedly stating that they would abide by high command’s decision. Quite contrary to their statements, all the ministers have taken oath giving the first indication to the high command that Jagan’s loyalists are vulnerable to arm twisting from Delhi. Now, the change in their tone further emboldened the high command. At the present moment, Jagan lobby seems to be on the losing track and the high command’s strategy seems to be working on the ground. However politics can take sudden shift at any time. It all depends upon the ability of Jagan camp to keep the MLAs in their fold and to what extent are these loyalists ready to come with Jagan.

No doubt, Jagan enjoys the support of majority of MLAs, MLCs and MPs. But, the party is not synonymous with legislators alone.

Many of these MLAs and MPs were personally picked up by YSR. Therefore it is easily comprehensible why they are so vocally supporting Jagan. YSR carved out autonomous political space for himself within the congress politics in the state. Apart from this political empire, a vast economic empire was built up in the last five years with the active support of state and generous political patronage. Many MLAs and MPs are directly or indirectly associated with this politico-economic empire. Obviously, they want this to be intact. Talk about continuance of development and welfare measures are purely for public consumption.

The patrons of this politico-economic empire cannot venture to incur the wrath of high command especially at a time when congress rules the centre. If they do so , it will be self suicidal . The congress high command knows this fact very well. Infact the courage for the High command to move against popular mood within the party comes out of perfect understanding of the political economy of leadership change.

The congress high command willingly or unwillingly accepted the unquestioned leadership of YSR. There are many reasons for this. Though YSR came out of the long shadow of high command much to the latter’s consternation, his loyalty to the party was never in doubt. Even the Congress high command is also reportedly a beneficiary of this large economic and business empire being built with political patronage. The congress was also not so confident in the country prior to 2009. Subsequently, significant gains in Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Maharashtra etc, gave the high command comfort and confidence to deal firmly with situations at the state level as in Andhra Pradesh. The congress high command seems to be not in mood to invest similar confidence in Jaganmohan Reddy simply because he is untested. On the other hand the high command wants the party in the state back in its complete fold. The High Command certainly doesnot want a strong state leader to emerge. Perhaps, this is the most opportune moment for the high command as the untimely death of a towering leader left a void in state politics. The conflict between the strategic political interests of high command and politico-economic interests of Jagan& co continues. As a result, the clouds of confusion remain on the political landscape of Andhra Pradesh atleast for sometime to come.

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