|(From left) Jagan’s sister Sharmila and mother Vijayamma outside Chanchalaguda jail on Friday. Picture by G Vijayalakshmi
Hyderabad, June 16: Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy hugged every one of his victorious legislators and offered them an apple when they visited him in jail today, but it was voters who appeared to have reaped the most tangible fruit of this week’s bypoll.
In other words, another “alternative” in a space so long dominated by either the Congress or the Telugu Desam Party.
C. Ravi, a political analyst, even went on to compare the emergence of Jagan’s YSR Congress with that of Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamul, which last year swept to power in Bengal in a spectacular surge across the state.
“The YSRC has emerged as the TMC of Andhra Pradesh as it is cutting into the vote banks of both the ruling party and the Opposition,” Ravi said, a day after Jagan’s party walloped both the Congress and the Desam.
Comparisons between Trinamul and the YSR Congress may be too early as Jagan’s new party has a long way to go. But the point Ravi was trying to make was yesterday’s bypoll results had given voters another viable option.
The YSR Congress won 15 of the 18 Assembly seats that went to polls on June 12 as well as the lone Lok Sabha seat up for grabs.
The ruling Congress, the party of Jagan’s late father Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy, won two and the Telangana Rashtra Samiti one. The Desam drew a blank.
The YSR Congress’s victory must have tasted sweeter as it came despite the absence of its chief from the campaign canvas.
Jagan, arrested on corruption charges, has been in custody since May 27, forcing his mother Y.S. Vijayamma and sister Sharmila to don the mantle of chief campaigners for the elections — dubbed a “semi-final” before the 2014 Lok Sabha and Assembly polls. Sources in the YSR Congress said Sharmila might even enter politics if Jagan continued to remain in jail.
Today, all the 15 newly elected YSR Congress MLAs gathered at the party office and vowed to avenge what they called was an injustice to their leader.
“People have given a verdict that all the CBI charges are politically motivated and vindictive (and had been) foisted at the diktat of the Delhi durbar,” party spokesperson Ambati Rambabu said.
Later, all the new MLAs visited Chanchalaguda jail to meet Jagan, who hugged each one of them after greeting them with an apple.
Some in the Congress blamed the party’s performance on internal squabbles. Many local leaders had boycotted campaigns by the state unit chief in their areas. A vernacular newspaper summed it up, saying: “The skeleton of the Congress is so rotten that all it needed was a push by a widow and a novice sister to collapse.”
Others conceded they had “no counter” to the campaign by Vijayamma, Jagan’s widowed mother who entered politics after her chief minister husband YSR died in a 2009 air crash.
A Congress spokesperson claimed the CBI had been hasty in arresting Jagan.