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Denied, rebel eyes 2014

Hyderabad, Nov. 27: For a man impatient but “not in a hurry”, the perfect tag for his mission would have been 2014: An Odarpu Odyssey.

That’s the date Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy has set himself. Let the Congress, which denied him what he believes should have been his — the Andhra chief minister’s chair — run its term. He would strike when the time comes.

All he wanted now, Jagan said, was to continue with the Odarpu yatra, as it was a promise he had made at the site of the crash that killed his dad.

“I will bide my time as now I am not in a hurry. After three rounds of the Odarpu yatra, I am confident and know what the people look for — a real leader like my father,” he said.

His father, doctor-turned-chief minister Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy who died in a helicopter crash last year, had waited 25 years to be noticed by the high command.

Jagan, 37, isn’t willing to wait that long. But he can wait four years.

The words poured out in a freewheeling talk as the dissident Congress MP chatted with a few reporters who had called on him today at his Srinagar Colony home in Hyderabad, days after the high command had snubbed him yet again by naming Kiran Kumar Reddy chief minister.

“I did not do a Viceroy Hotel, like Chandrababu Naidu in August 1995, even when I had 150 of the 156 MLAs supporting me in September 2009,” he said, alluding to the Telugu Desam chief’s coup that toppled his father-in-law N.T. Rama Rao.

“Even at the Congress legislature party meeting, I told the MLAs who support me not to raise any issues. I am not interested in toppling this government. Let it run till 2014.”

Had he congratulated the new chief minister? “No,” he snapped, “have no intention to.”

The Odarpu yatra has become a point of conflict between him and the high command, but Jagan knows his honeymoon with the Congress is over.

On painkillers and steroids for a shoulder injury, Jagan was cool about the controversy his channel Sakshi kicked up with the programme Dus ka Dum that criticised Sonia and Rahul Gandhi.

“I do not know what the editorial team plans. There is always a lot of pressure on the channel heads because of TRPs. We were No. 3 two weeks back from where we slipped to No. 5. And I keep telling my team that I want Sakshi TV to be No. 1,” he said.

It was only after the uproar over the programme, he said, that he found out what the show was about. “Even on Rahul Gandhi’s role in the Bihar elections, we have said what other magazines, newspapers and channels have said. But when we say it, we are targeted.”

Jagan’s supporters said they weren’t surprised at Kiran’s elevation. “But he is just Delhi’s man. He doesn’t have the mandate to rule the state,” said one. “Will he have a say in who gets tickets to contest the elections in 2014?”

Jagan said all the MLAs and ministers who support him were summoned to Delhi and admonished by senior leader Ahmed Patel. “Their motive is to weaken me,” he said.

His supporters said Jagan should move out now. “He should work towards building his cadre base and aim to become CM in 2014,” said former minister Konda Surekha.

“The battle for the real inheritor to YSR’s legacy is on,” said another supporter. “And it’s a battle that will go on till 2014. Till then, Andhra Pradesh will continue to be a pain in the neck for the high command, particularly for Sonia Gandhi.”

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